Friday, January 18, 2008

Dinner [CCR]

As the family sits around the dinner table we are able to once again share stories, bond, and remember all the good things about being a family. I called a truce. The television is silent and the video games take a break. This is time to remember the love bond we all share.

Today’s families seem to find a special need or require a special effort to build that bond at the dinner table. In this world of high speed commotion combining an unlimited number of activities, most everyone holding down a job to make ends meet, and everyone owning some type of transportation, making a group gathering almost impossible. But many families find that time. And for them a special tradition formed through the years of our ancestry will once again perform its magical bond upon us.

Growing up in Alabama presented almost as many obstacles as we see today. In our earlier years Mom was attending college, Dad was working shift work, and Susan and I had all the school activities. Yet each evening found us sitting down at the dinner table, sharing a thankful blessing for our meal, and enjoying both the conversation and what our joint efforts had prepared. Granted Mom did most of the cooking, but working in the garden and gathering the ingredients was a family activity.

We had some food from the grocery store which became a lifesaver as Mom’s responsibilities grew when teaching and attending school simultaneously. But we still managed to maintain a good portion of home grown meals and we still spent that time set aside most evenings for family bonding. Here we heard stories of Dad’s days at work or Mom’s challenges at school. It seems I knew more about the people at the chemical plant than most people might imagine, even if I didn’t know some of the faces. It was a time to relieve a little stress while sitting amongst those who care no matter what changes in life.

The blessing had interesting connotations. While it didn’t vary much through the years, Dad always asked a blessing on the family. If we had visitors he never failed to ask a blessing upon their family as well. And, in Southern tradition, visitors were always welcome at our dinner table. Many times visitors included extended family members that included aunts, uncles, and cousins. But Mom and Dad never excluded others who might enjoy a meal with the family.

It was especially important to share an ice cold glass of tea with people who may be helping us with special work around the house or maybe someone who had just dropped by to say hello. I can remember many times Mom wrapping up a meal for someone to take home and share with their family. Maybe it was a lesson learned from church, but more likely it was that built-in Southern obligation passed through the ages from one family to the next.

Today family meals haven’t changed much. At our house we ask the blessing upon the meal. When visiting Mom and Dad it almost seems a little awkward when Dad asks a blessing upon those visiting for once again I have come home. Other than that one phrase little has changed. A big pitcher of cold tea sits on the table along with a whole cake of corn bread and other vegetables to share. As Mom and Dad have retired and the home place requires a little more attention, there still seems to be a fair share of home vegetables around the table.

Take a moment tonight to remove all the distractions and sit with whoever may share a meal with you. At the time of that meal they are your family. Enjoy a laugh, contribute a story, and if possible, relieve a little of the days stress. Maybe your soul will join your appetite in being filled with a little Southern hospitality.