Back in my early single mom days when the boys and I survived on boxed mac and cheese, I realized that even though money was tight, I still enjoyed inviting friends and family over for dinner. It didn’t matter if the meal was simple and the dishes didn’t match. It was the fellowship that was important. I began with jarred spaghetti sauce, and then eventually graduated to more complicated meals. I tried new recipes and, yes, some were epic fails. Laughter and conversation ensued as the children played beneath our feet. Love was present.
Gathering over a meal became a tradition among my family and friends. Sometimes it was Friday nights, but Sunday soon became the evening when we would meet over a warm pot of chili, roasted chicken with potatoes and gravy, or spaghetti and meatballs. Sunday dinners meant a newfound recipe or an old favorite. Often it was a last minute invite, inspired by a drop in the temperature or the discovery of a tempting new dish or the desire to whip up a delicious dessert. The table was set. Pots bubbled on the stove. Bread was warmed up in the oven. We showed up.
After grandchildren graced our lives, Sunday dinners meant stacking blocks or playing horsie on the living room floor. Oohs and ahhss were expressed over colorful drawings. Cupcakes were eyed, but not distributed until a few bites were coaxed from the main meal. Kisses and hugs abounded. This was our heaven.
Now that we have moved to a new state and a new community, our Sunday dinners had been on hold, waiting for life to settle itself. Yet last Sunday we decided it was time to resurrect the tradition. Daughter and son-in-law sat around our cozy table as we shared stories and reflections. Talk ranged from our favorite music to holiday plans to the preparations for their new baby due in the spring. I looked at these faces around my kitchen table and instantly recognized love in its purest form.
A meal shared is a simple way of offering up your heart. Fancy table settings or matching serving bowls are not required. You don’t need to have a perfectly clean house. Just clear some space and you are set. Don’t worry about whether there are dust bunnies or the bed isn’t made. Light a few candles, heat up a pot of your favorite soup or order pizza, and crowd around the table. Coming together over food will strengthen your bonds and enhance your life. If family doesn’t live near, invite friends or make new ones. Life is infinitely better when you gather together, (especially if there is pie.)
“Eating is so intimate. It's very sensual. When you invite someone to sit at your table and you want to cook for them, you're inviting a person into your life.” - Maya Angelou