My children are grown and gone, but as the matriarch of our family, I feel it is very important that we still gather together weekly or bi-weekly for a big family meal.
I’ll be honest.
I saw our grown sons start to separate and not be as close as they once were when they all lived at home. As an Italian family, the importance of food and family gatherings have been passed down to us from generation to generation. We often say jokingly, If we feed them, they will come. And so many good things happen as you gather together with a captive audience around a table with food.
When my kids were younger, breakfast was always rushed and lunch was unavailable during the week. But the one thing we did do was make it a point to gather together at dinner time with relaxing music on and the TV off!
The purpose to having a family meal is to cultivate the relationships in the home and build a sense of community. We share our victories and failures of the day with those whom we love, warmed by the knowledge that they love us. We gain wisdom, knowledge and understanding from one another when it comes to life. Sometimes, we just need to hear some encouragement to go out and face another day. Whatever the need, a family meal can begin to cultivate solutions and a sense of closeness.
If families started doing this one simple task each day or week, we would not have so much strife in our homes as we have today, and even possibly less divorced families. People gravitate for a sense of belonging and to be accepted and accountable. This is the foundation for every child to become a healthy adult before they are released into the world. This can happen during the family meal time.
Back when my boys were growing up, the family meal was also a time for them to learn how to work as a family. One would help me set the table and one would help with the cleaning up after dinner. When my oldest got towards Junior high, he would even cook the meal on the grill for me if we wanted hamburgers or hotdogs while my husband was traveling. All of these tasks send a message to your community or family that says, “I belong, I matter and I am responsible.”
Whether your kids are grown and gone or still at home, I challenge you to have a family meal as a routine in your home. It can be breakfast, lunch or dinner; whatever works best for you. Just do it!
If you’re alone or your kids live too far away to have a family meal, then I challenge you to share a meal with someone in your home. Use your best china if you want to or make it as simple as you want. It’s not about having a gourmet meal or the elaborate ambiance, it’s about building a sense of community and strengthening the relationships in your life and someone else’s!
Debra Trusela is a writer, public speaker and a mentor when it comes to issues that deal with marriage, family and healthy living. She lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her children and grandchildren as well as her husband, who also writes and does speaking engagements with her.
She may be contacted at Dtrusela@cox.net.
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