Skimming through a Focus on the Family newsletter I had received in the mail, the title, "Five Essential Family Behaviors" caught my eye. When I read the very first essential behavior, "Family Dinner," my mind went back a few decades (gasp! could that be?) to the nightly dinners I shared with my parents and sisters around our Waltons-style table. You know, the long, rectangular table with benches on either side and a chair at both ends? Mom and Dad sat in the chairs, and my 4 sisters and I had our own places on the benches. I distinctly remember sitting on my Dad's left.
Family dinners. Such great times! My mom was/is a great cook and, except on those very few occasions that she, like all moms do, cooked something "gross" (liver, cabbage, giblets in the stuffing . . . you can fill in the blanks with your own childhood memories of grossness!), the food was excellent! But I don't really remember the specific food as much as the dynamics of a meal around the Hulse table.
Laughter was one of the best parts of our family meals. Laughing at each other and at other unfortunate people we encountered during our days was among our favorite things to do, though Mom and Dad thoroughly discouraged this kind of behavior. Laughing with each other was another story. Our parents had/have a great sense of humor, and laughing about appropriate subjects was what it was all about. We still laugh a lot when our family gets together.
I'm so blessed to have been able to count on eating a meal with my family gathered around the table at least once almost every day. Reading that "Family Dinner" is among the 5 essential family behaviors made me feel a little sad because, if it has to be spelled out like that, it probably isn't among the normal, average activities a family shares in the 21st century. Let's not be so busy, everyone in different directions, that we can't sit together for some meal or other, or at least just in each other's presence, and catch up with one another. Laugh together. Encourage one another. That's what families are for! :)