Updated: Nov 26, 2019
Recently I prepared a meal to share with my son’s family. They live a mere twenty minutes from me. Fact is, we are all so engaged in our activities and responsibilities we seldom make a point to share a meal. That’s not to say that we never gather, only that most of the occasions are more circumstantial than intentional. Yesterday we had a plan. I organized a menu and orchestrated getting everyone rounded up. We sat around the table and exchanged little tidbits of our day. We learned a little about each other and felt compassion about situations we did not even know existed.
My mind wanders to the days when my own mother prepared her predictable meal of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy and green beans. This menu always ended with chocolate cake and chocolate icing. Mom prepared this meal for our family every week or two. At the time I never realized how long it takes to put a meal like that together. There was love in the preparation and in the presentation.
If we were joined by friends at the table, you could tell who my dad really liked because he would pick on them. In his ornery playful way, he made our friends feel welcome.
Sadly, I don’t remember a lot of times when my kids’ friends joined us for a meal. We lived three miles down a dirt road and were about thirty minutes from town. The geography was a large part of the reason we seldom had friends over for a meal.
There was one occasion when my husband came home after we moved closer to town and found a teenage boy with his head in our refrigerator. When Josh saw Ernest enter the room, he casually closed the door and commented that there really was not much in there to eat. Ernest asked where our son Rodney was. Josh commented that he did not know, he was just in the neighborhood and stopped by for a snack. We laughed and were happy that he felt comfortable coming by even when our son was not home.
One day Josh’s dad asked Ernest what he owed him. Ernest responded “You don’t owe me anything. Why?” He said, “I figured I owe you child support because my son has eaten at your house so much.” Ernest answered, “No, they ate at your house last month”.
My husband recalls conversations with his friends when he was a teenager when they discussed what was being served for supper at each home. The intent was to go eat at the house with the best food first and then make the rounds to the other houses.
Sometimes in life we share a meal with someone who is not in our usual social circle. When I was about 30, we shared a meal in the home of some friends who were our parents age. I don’t recall there being any specific occasion. I do remember that our children were not with us. In those days that could have BEEN the occasion. We seldom did anything without the kids. The meal was delicious, and the company was relaxed and fun. I remember thinking when we left there, “I hope she invites us again. This woman can cook!”. I’d love to be one of those people from whom a dinner invitation brings an automatic leap of joy, an internal “YES!” because I am such a great cook. That’s not the case. I have not mastered cooking though I do stumble into some success in the kitchen and I believe there’s hope.
My kids asked me one time if anyone was coming for dinner. I said, “No. Why?”. “Because if someone is coming you will cook”. Well I never failed to feed them, but you get the picture.
I have heard recently that if we think things have changed quickly in our generation, we had better hold on tight because we have never even imagined change like our grandchildren will experience. I was born in 1957 when television was new. Cars were much more basic and computers not part of our lives. I graduated from High School in 1975 which is the year Ed Roberts coined the term “personal computer”. However, we all still eat. I don’t think that will change. Families still need connection and a meal shared at home still meets a lot of needs.
God in his great love created mankind with the need for both community and nutrition. Mealtime is a great occasion to meet both needs. I am thankful for memories of time spent around the table with family. Enjoy your family gatherings this week.