The table in our dining room is scratched and dented. There is a chair on each end and benches along the sides. I used to sit here as a child, squeezed in between cousins and aunts and uncles, sipping ruby red grapefruit juice out of a tiny yellow can. The kind with no added sugar that made my mouth pucker and eyes water. My grandpa would sit at one end, making smart alec remarks to my grandma who had to decide whether to smart back or laugh. Usually she chose both.
This table has a rich history. Countless meals, family laughs, stormy arguments. Decades of doing life together.
And now it sits in my new dining room. We do school here in the mornings. Writing, reading, adding, subtracting. But after a month in this house, I can count on one hand the number of family dinners we have had at this table.
And I have decided that I am not ok with that.
In this hyper-connected yet disconnected world, we need a place that pulls us back together. A place where we put our phones down, look each other in the eye and say, “You matter to me.”
That place is the dinner table.
Monday night I had the kids set the table with sparkly glassware and fancy place mats. I cooked one of our favorite meals, a simple stir fry with rice and peanuts. And while Christmas music played softly in the background, we talked and laughed our way through a fantastic family dinner.
In the middle of the meal, we asked each kid stand up so everyone around the table could say one thing they love about them. I found myself choking back tears when Joe told Leila she was not only the best sister in the world, but the best friend in the world.
We spoke life into their hearts, and in turn received life into our own. It was like…magic.
It’s funny how slowing down and taking time to share a meal together can breathe life back into a family.
I can’t wait to do it again.
This post was inspired by the Mealtime Movement, helping form connections one bite at a time. To learn more, you can watch the video below, check out the website, and connect on Facebook. Share what family mealtime means to you with the hashtag #ThisIsMealtime.
The Mealtime Movement initiative views every meal as an opportunity to connect in a world full of distractions and on-the-go parenting. The video showcases three real families of various makeups, speaking from the heart about their relationships and desire for deeper connections, before coming together for a device-free family meal. Prior to the meal, parents and children were interviewed on camera talking about one another. Each family is surprised as footage from the preliminary interviews is played back, provoking a meaningful bonding opportunity. The families were kept largely in the dark about the projects specifics prior to the shoot in order to ensure emotional authenticity and spontaneity.
What do family meals mean to you?