Monday, January 21, 2008

Kitchen Table Moments

I think just about every report, survey result or poll I've ever read about family dynamics, says that families who eat their evening meal together, are stronger, happier families. I can see the logic in that.

When you share at least one mealtime together each day, you have time to relax and talk about things. You have the opportunity to hear what's going on with other family members, and this time together just becomes a normal part of your day. When my oldest was about 10, and began to venture off into the social world of 4th graders, she told me one day that NONE of her friends sit down and eat dinner together and that we were just a weird family. I thought that observation was rather charming, in light of the comment she made about 10 years later after she'd moved out, when she said something along the lines of "I'm so glad we always ate dinner together!" This is the way I grew up, and this is the way my kids have grown (and are growing) up, and by His grace this is the way it'll always be.

I thought about this last night as we gathered in the kitchen to have our family devotional time. Often on Sunday nights we gather there instead of the living room, because Sunday night is dessert night! As we sat there my thoughts sort of drifted and wondered how many times the previous family that lived in our house, also gathered there? We live in a big old farmhouse and the kitchen is huge. The same family (3 generations of it) lived in this house for 120+ years before we moved here, so I would just assume they gathered there often. Did those kitchen walls hear hymns being sung in there? The acoustics in my kitchen are nothing short of amazing - when we sing in there, even the least talented singers in my family (which include myself) harmonize beautifully together. How about laughter? Frustration? Personal chats between husbands and wives, and sisters, best friends and parents and children? I'm betting if those walls could speak, they'd have stories to tell that would probably both break our hearts and warm them all at the same time.

I know that for myself, some of my fondest childhood memories are things that took place at the kitchen table. Hilarious conversations, holiday meals, family game night, and important news delivered at the supper table. Over the last 25 years as I've raised my own family, it's those same types of events that tend to take place at the kitchen table. If there is important news to share with the whole family, it's done there. If someone had a wild dream they want to tell, it's done there too. Prayer needs, funny jokes, reminders of undone chores or tasks - those are also part of what make up kitchen table moments. It's those kitchen table moments that make up a lifetime of memories that you really enjoy recalling.

Yes indeed, I can see the reasoning behind all those studies that tell us families who eat a daily meal together, are stronger, happier families.