The Value of a Family Meal (even when the food is terrible)
It’s been a long three months. This Friday marks the start of my second trimester with my sixth child. Wow. That was hard. It’s been a long three months.
It turns out that writing a food blog when all food is terrible to you, and all you want to do is sleep, is, well, it’s hard. My family has been lucky if they get something other than pizza, pb&j, or pasta.
In the evenings we sit around the table with our mediocre dinner and tell about our days. As soon as the last story is told I make a b-line for the couch and I don’t move until morning. This of course puts me behind the next morning and I desperately (and unsuccessfully) try to catch up on everything. Life tends to move at the same fast pace whether I am moving with it or not.
Our meals may be less than five-star affairs, but that has not, in fact, devalued our family dinners. The value in family dinner does not lie in the quality of the food served. Family dinner holds it’s own sweet value. From leftovers, to sandwiches, to homemade soup and bread, or steak and potatoes, the focus of dinner should never really be on the food, but rather on each other.
Food is a vehicle to the growth of body, mind, spirit, and relationships. Meals bring people together to talk, share, laugh, and listen. Food slows us down and reminds us that we are not machines of productivity. We were created for more than a to do list. The family meal is the river that connects us, one to the other. It gives life to the family and provides substance that mere food cannot.
It isn’t just first trimester woes that can make dinner difficult. It can be a tough work schedule, illness, exhaustion, food boredom — you and I know this list is endless. Dinner can be difficult. If you don’t already have regular family meals, start by adding in one extra family meal a week, then another, and then another. If you do already have family meals, maybe liven it up with some flowers, or new jokes to tell. Let your family see the love and importance this time holds.
When everyone stops their work to sit down and eat together, be it breakfast, lunch, or dinner, the message is this: You are more important than my work. You are more important than my tiredness. You are more important than anything else in the world.
So if nothing in your day has gone right, grab your family and some peanut butter and jelly, then eat together, talk together, tell knock knock jokes together. Tell each other through your meal: You are important to me.