Around the Table

Many of my favorite things revolve around food of some sort. I love cooking. The process of preparing vegetables for a stir-fry, or putting ingredients in a pot for stew, or baking a loaf of bread relax and energize me. As much time as I spend in other pursuits in my life, I hope I always have time to cook.

After the preparation comes the best part – eating! But really, food is better shared. Watching people’s faces as they enjoy food is refreshing. I thank God regularly for the simple fact that we can enjoy different flavors. Setting a meal down at a table and having everyone go silent for a few moments is a rare compliment indeed for the cook.

Then there’s the company. Nothing brings a family together like a meal. Consider our major holidays – Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter… All of them seem to hit their highest point around some kind of family meal. Maybe everyone brings a dish, or maybe one relative cooks the whole meal. Regardless of how it happens, food is often a centerpiece. Think about birthdays and anniversaries – meals tend to be a part of these celebrations as well.

For me growing up, the fact that I would come home, do homework, and then eat dinner was a comfort. There was a routine there. There was immense comfort knowing that my parents, brother, and I would spend some time talking – or at least looking at each other. Does that mean every meal was perfect? No. We had some experiments that didn’t turn out so well.

I remember a soy flour country steak gravy that tasted way too much like soy sauce. I also remember a bleu cheese stuffed burger that many would enjoy… me, not so much. I also remember great meals, like fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and peas, or breakfast for dinner.

Sometimes the meals were elaborate, and sometimes we threw together some sandwiches. What stands out in my mind is the time. I enjoyed that time. It was safe. We had a rule, “What’s said at the table, stays at the table.” With that rule, we could say what was on our mind without worry that someone would repeat it.

I guess what I’m trying to say here is that if you can manage it, family meals can make a big difference in the long run. I still remember those times… maybe not in detail, but I do look back on them and know we are closer as a family because of that time invested.


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