“Food in the end is something holy. It’s not about nutrients and calories. It’s about sharing…it’s about identity.” ~ Louise Fresco
My mother has always maintained an open table. In my memoir, Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected, the significance of family meals is mentioned in more than one chapter. Except for special evenings and holidays when we ate in the dining room, my mom had a come as you are policy. The times were few when my mother said, “go get washed up for dinner.” Bare feet and bathing suits were acceptable. But the line was drawn at bare chests and wearing hats.
During the years of my childhood fast food was not readily available so three square meals a day were typically eaten at home until I and my siblings reached school age. Missing the evening family meal was a no-no. Why? Because eating together was all part of the family dynamic. Though there were plenty of meals whose foundations began with pandemonium, peaceful resolutions to family squabbles were solved around the dinner table. It’s where we learned to work out our disputes!
Much research has shown the importance of eating together. For those who have no family connections, community dinners can be a wonderful way to bond and find kinship with others. My greatest pleasure over the past five years has been volunteering to put dinner on the table at a weekly coming together at The Heart of Steamboat United Methodist Church. The gathering draws individuals and families from all walks within the community who find unity, connection, conversation and sustenance that warms the spirit and nourishment for the soul. Is that not what this thing called life is all about?
To learn more about the thoughts about eating together as a family, listen to this Ted Talk.