One of the best parts about fall is the hearty food. I have a list of favorites I actually enjoy making and having for dinner this time of year. These are foods that taste best when it’s chilly outside and the darkness of early evenings brings us inside together. It’s a time of heaping pots of steamy soups, warm tea and hot fresh baked bread. It’s a time when we seem more hungry and in need of that warmth that settles into our bones against the growing coldness of the days.
Our family eats dinner together regularly. It may be a simple meal of grilled cheese and canned soup or even eggs and pancakes for dinner but we sit down together to eat at least one meal as much as possible. There’s something special about talking about our routines that gives even a simple meal the possibility of being the best moment of the day. While I appreciate these times immensely I also enjoy the times when our meals are more hearty and there’s asks for seconds.
The family meal table can simply be gathering around the kitchen together. There is grace and beauty in this ritual of coming together after a long day at work or school. We can feel reconnected to something bigger in life and reset from the challenges of our day. We can be comforted, soothed and encouraged while also being filled with love.
The center of the home in the kitchen ties our families together with food and love. It gives us that place of safety and comfort that anything outside those walls can be dealt with but for now we can rest and reflect, be comforted and strengthened by those we love. That is a simple grace of a family. That time together may be short each day and preparing a meal after working all day a challenge but these are precious moments that can truly replenish our soul if we let it.
Dishing up some chicken pot pie or hearty chili and enjoying the warmth from these types of dishes warms us. It gives us that sense of all being ok in the world and we can take a time to rest while we prepare for another round the next day. It is a simple connection of us to food and us to others that gives us that strength to carry on. These heartier dishes bring us to a time when what was on our table for a meal was hand grown and made and we lived in a simpler time of working with own hands to make our way in the world. These dishes represent generations of people before us who also shared in a simple meal after a long day.
Some times we will say grace before we eat. Not always and probably not as much as we should but we will do so occasionally. Our family chooses to hold hands during prayer at the table and I have always enjoyed that. It gives me a moment to touch each of them and connect with them on a level that reminds me of who my family is and what I love about that. We’re not experts at praying but we recite a simple well known prayer and then sometimes will each add our own little thankful statement at the end. It’s simple and it’s our family.
I don’t know that it matters what is on the table to eat because that connection to my son and husband are what truly fills me soul on these days when we do this. I may have had just a terrible day at work but here I am sitting at the kitchen table with the two of them saying a little prayer and giving thanks they are there. It allows me to take that deep breath of release from the stress of the day and realize I can enjoy this meal and work on making tomorrow a little better for myself and them.
When we eat as a family I won’t always put food in serving dishes or bring out fancy silverware. Sometimes it is the pot itself on the table or I dish up things and we go to the stove for more. It’s basic and as unfancy as you can get but it’s home and it’s a place I am deeply thankful to have. Whether you came from a good family or had a troubling childhood growing up, the value and gratefulness of where you are now and all that is around you in your own family can make even the darkest of days seem possible to overcome. For that I am thankful.
One day our son will be off doing his own journey as an adult. He will no longer sit at the table in the evenings telling us about Minecraft or whatever other video game he and his friends are playing. He won’t tell us about his school day or what his favorite part of the day was. One day it will just be me and my husband at the table for dinner.
It is my hope as a mom that our son regardless of where he is remembers those nightly dinners simple or not and knows why we did that. I hope he knows why it was important and what it did for each of us in sharing that. Perhaps when he realizes it’s 6 or 7 at night he’ll think of his mom and dad sitting down to eat dinner and give us a call or come home to join us. Hopefully he will do the same for his own family when that time comes.
Family meals are not some bygone tradition or outdated ritual. They are the heartbeat that keeps a family connected and gives us a refill in our souls. It helps us through challenging days and brings us back to what is important in life. Each other. The harvest of our day can be brought home to share with those we love and if there isn’t a harvest we share our troubles and get rest, replenishment and peace from the challenge at least for a while. Sharing a meal in that process is what connects us to nature and our family bringing alignment to our hearts and minds so we can go out the next day knowing why we do what we do and focusing on the beauty we have in our lives.
Yes Fall is full of hearty meals cooked in crock pots or simmering on a stove. They give us a true connection to the harvest of the season and our need for connection to those we love. We are reminded of our need to be at one with nature and one another while honoring each person’s journey and place at our table. So whether its a bowl of piping chili filled or a simple grilled cheese sandwich we can reset our souls and enjoy one of the simplest pleasures there is in life –
Being connected to a family.
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