Life gets so crazy sometimes that the goals we set as families can fall by the wayside. But one goal our family has been able to hold onto is eating dinner together. It doesn’t happen every night, but most nights it does.
Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t perfect. We have our share of unruly family dinners. Recently there was a night where Mom and Dad kept reminding the kids not to argue, only to end the meal with an argument themselves! We have more laughter than tears mixed in with our food, though.
Sometimes we turn music on after a blessing on the food, but usually there is no background noise, with the television off as well. It gives us a chance to talk about what happened to each family member during the day or about the world at large. I wouldn’t call our meals quiet; it’s finely orchestrated chaos. We have four children, and my husband and I take turns sitting by the two-year-old because it is a time-consuming and messy chore. It can be hard to make sure everyone is heard, but usually we do manage to listen to everyone.
We use paper plates a lot in our house because I struggle with my health, which limits how much I can accomplish. It isn’t pretty or necessarily friendly to the environment but it’s what we have to do right now to get along. For the same reason, we sometimes have take-out food, but guess what? You can eat take-out around the dinner table! Just because you aren’t a world-class chef doesn’t mean you can’t sit together to eat and talk.
The kids do their part to help too–setting the table, clearing it, filling the water pitcher, stiring the soup, etc. While the they might complain, we still do make them help. It is part of being a family – accomplishing something by working together.
Our family dinners are touchstones. We all meet together, really, only once a day. Oh, we’re crossing paths and in the same house throughout the day. But truly conversing together and thinking about the same things happens only at dinner. While we’re already gathered together around the dinner table we take a few minutes for what some would call a religious devotional. We call it scripture reading, where we will read and talk about the gospel, if everyone is congenial.
Our blessing on the food also happens to be our family prayer, where we pray for things in addition to the food (e.g., an extended family member who is sick, an area of the world with a natural disaster). We try to simplify our religious practices because we have small children, while still including religious principles we feel are important.
Eating dinner with my family is something I enjoy. Our food and our families are both great blessings from God; how fitting it is that we can enjoy and give thanks for them together.
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