Together at the Table

 

“I mentioned to an eleventh-grade class how in our home we all ate together. One of my students gave a quizzical expression and asked, “Your family eats together every day?” I answered him in the affirmative. He then asked a question that broke my heart, “May I go and live with you? In my house we never eat together as a family.” 

Author: Yara Cerna Young

 

There are so many activities a family can do together. Vacations, sports, hobbies, camping, and things that draw a family together. Yes, many memories can be made from such activities; however, the drawback to some of these is that they can be expensive and they do not happen often enough. There is one simple activity that can take place every day that will draw families together. That activity is mealtime.

Our family made it a priority to have meals together every day.
My husband and I ate breakfast and supper together since the day we said, “I do.” When our first child was born, I stopped teaching outside of the home. At that point we had three meals together every day. The hospital where my husband worked was within walking distance from our home. My husband made it a practice to come home for lunch. Our little ones saw their father at every meal.

When our children started school we could not have lunch together anymore, but we still had breakfast and supper together. This went on for years. When the twins started high school, I started teaching full time again. My husband and I discussed our situation. We had teenagers, my teaching, many school activities, music lessons, homework, and church activities. What would we do about our meals? I remember telling my husband, “We have worked too hard to establish our family mealtimes, and even if I am working full time, I will not let that go. Those meals keep our family together. We will continue our daily breakfast and supper as a family even if it kills me.”

Why work so hard to keep our family meals? Why is that so important? Those meals solidified that we were a family – a close unit. It grounded us. We were not on our own. We still worked together to be the Young Family. Those mealtimes brought stability to our children. They knew they were part of a whole — a very strong whole. They felt the support of parents and siblings. We were united.

Screen Shot 2013-02-25 at 1.22.43 AM This time gave us the opportunity to have family worship and prayer every single morning before we started our activities of the day. My husband left the home later than we did, but he still woke up early so he could be dressed and ready to have worship and breakfast as a family. I am grateful to the Lord that my husband made our family such a priority that he was willing to get up earlier than he needed to in order to have that family time.

It was during those meals that much instruction took place. We talked about spiritual matters, politics, relationships, marriage, how to choose a spouse, and social matters. We tackled hard questions. Our children would bring up what they were facing at school. My husband and I gave so much instruction on how to face life and how to deal with unfair treatment from teachers and friends. We talked about the importance of a positive attitude. The subjects were endless. Many times the dinner table was filled with laughter; it was just a fun and funny time. It was at the dining table that our children learned table and social manners. It was during this time that our children learned how to set a table and do some cooking. They also learned how to clear and clean the table and kitchen. Most of all, the concept of family was emphasized every single day – twice a day.

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I refer to my offspring as “children,” but this was the pattern in our home until all went away to college. They were 19 years old, and we were still eating as a family twice a day and enjoying our togetherness.
We are empty nesters now, but when our children come home for holidays or special occasions, we still eat together as a family along with their spouses. Those family meals still anchor us as the Young Family.

I mentioned to an eleventh-grade class how in our home we all ate together.
One of my students gave a quizzical expression and asked, “Your family eats together every day?” I answered him in the affirmative. He then asked a question that broke my heart, “May I go and live with you? In my house we never eat together as a family.”
We may spend money on vacations for our families, and we may spend some time playing sports and camping, but nothing can glue a family together like time at the dining room table.

 

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