Okay, this may be a stretch for a Random Stuff We Like entry, and may even be borderline TMG Philosphy. I’m going to do it here, today, anyway.
We recently celebrated a birthday dinner with my husband’s family, and then, of course, we were with family for Mother’s Day. As I reflected on each of these dinners, I started to think about how special these family dinners are. They may even be endangered.
I’m not talking about nightly meals with those in our home. I mean the dinners that bring members of your extended family together. Though the occasion and participants vary, my husband and I have the opportunity to gather in this way at least once a month, if not more. Whether it is his family, my family or both combined, we can count on these gatherings. In our hectic and crazy busy lives, sometimes this opportunity feels like a chore, a burden. However, I always get something out of the interactions, and am grateful that my children are now getting the chance to experience these family meals.
We don’t just eat and leave. We sit. We talk. We work together, cook together, laugh and sometimes cry together. We even fight together for that occasional family drama encounter. Here, smart phones, tablets, television and social media don’t exist. Here, we practice the art of conversation. We ask questions, we listen. With all the attention-sucking, hypnotizing gadgets being crammed down our throats, it is nice to sit around a table, practice our manners, argue over the last biscuit, and laugh at the same jokes over and over. Here, family tales grow bigger. Here, legends are told. Here memories are made.
Invariably, pictures are taken, capturing mouthfuls of food, children picking noses, parents yawning, awkward glances and hearty laughter. These snapshots of time become a record of our family growing together. These snapshots are shared with those loved ones not with us. These snapshots capture time to be passed down to the next generations.
Maybe, just maybe, these gatherings full of home-cooked food and love offer a reprieve from the rush of everyday life. They might serve to offer extra support and love to family members that are hurting, or encouragement to those in need. Rituals are shared and taught. New boyfriends or girlfriends are introduced and embarrassed, announcements are made, and identities are formed.
In sharing our joys, stories, jokes, trials, frustrations, and even recipes, we share parts of ourselves with each other and deepen our roots. That’s what makes family dinners and gatherings one of those things we love. What’s for dinner?