Building families & culture by gathering around the table, one meal at a time.
“All great change in America begins at the dinner table,” said Ronald Reagan in his farewell address in the Oval Office, Jan. 1989. Gathering around the supper table for daily family meals is something our family values deeply and prioritized since our children were little. Sadly, this ritual seems to be disappearing in America. When you think of family meals, what comes to mind? The ideal in a Norman Rockwell painting? June Cleaver or The Waltons? Maybe your family meal resembles the scene from “Cheaper by the Dozen,” when the pet frog gets loose and wreaks havoc at the family breakfast. Whether your meal is ideal or chaotic, be encouraged, there is hope. We found that because we prioritized a consistent family meal when our six children were young, they still enjoy gathering around our family table. Only now, they bring their spouses and their children, and we need a bigger table.
It seems that food is the social network of all eternity. Would you agree? Throughout history, sharing a meal drew people together. Look at the significance of meals throughout the Bible: the Passover meal, Old Testament Feasts, Jesus feeding the multitudes, Jesus’ picnic of fish on the beach with His disciples, Jesus’ Last Supper, and the marriage supper of the Lamb in Revelations. God’s covenants and Jesus’ discipleship centered around meals. There is something profound and spiritual about breaking bread together that goes beyond physical nourishment.
Family meals are more than just about nourishing the body. They are good for engaging the mind through conversations and nurturing the soul through love and character training. Billy Graham stated that “The greatest legacy one can pass on to one’s children and grandchildren is not money or other material things accumulated in one’s life, but rather a legacy of character and faith.” And what better way to do this than to gather the family around the table for a meal consistently?
But how do we make this happen? Or how do we make what we are doing better? For starters, there is truth in the statement, “if you feed them, they will come.” It does not need to be a gourmet meal or anything fancy; keep it simple. There are few family traditions more important than consistent, undistracted, intentional family meals around the table. Many families may believe in the value of regular family meals yet struggle to make it happen. The decline of families eating supper together is undoubtedly impacting our culture. Moms, we hold the key to this. Let’s change the culture by gathering our families around the table, one meal at a time.
(Keep an eye out for part 2! We will explore how to enjoy great family meals.)