Today I am thankful for family dinners. Our blended family includes my two daughters and my spouse’s daughter and son. The four “children” range in age from 13-23. My oldest daughter is currently teaching overseas, so dinners with her have been limited, and we miss her table conversation. Gathering the remaining five of us for a meal only happens only a couple of times a week, but we make the most of each opportunity.
Our family dinners tend to be raucous occasions with much good humor, laughter, and tasty food. Last night we had Salisbury steak, mashed potatoes and gravy, salad, and coconut pie for dessert. It was a simple, crowd-pleasing meal prepared from scratch in our kitchen–except for the homemade pie that we bought at the church auction Sunday night.
One of the things about family dinners for which I am most thankful is that it seems no matter how grumpy or distracted I might be when we sit down to eat my mood is much more relaxed and jovial when it’s time to clear the table. I head for the kitchen with a contented belly AND a smile.
Table fellowship and hospitality are so important in any context! Whether it is dinner for two, a family meal, a community cook-out, or a church potluck, gathering around a common table is a delightful experience. Taking time to prepare food from scratch when possible adds even more to the meal.
In an age of disconnection and frenzied lifestyles, dinners together can foster relationship, provide better nutrition, and offer a much healthier alternative to a quickly gobbled meal in front of television. Taking time to shop carefully and as locally as possible for food, preparing dishes from simple, basic ingredients and seasonings, and enjoying eating mindfully and joyfully with others is a good aim for which to strive. Finally and most importantly, don’t forget to offer thanks for the food on the table and the hands that grew and prepared it.
For Further Reflection
What are your most memorable family dinner experiences? What are your favorite slow or scratch-cooking dishes?
For more information on slowing down and enjoying a meal, check out Slow Food USA’s Thanksgiving tips and recipes or this guest post by Jane Sarasohn-Kahn about the slow food movement and better health.
(Vintage Southern family lawn supper photo by frstyfrolke/Cyndi used under Creative Commons License. Thanks!)