by Kristin Bonham
Family dinners have always been important to me but I have to confess, it can be a battle to find a time that works for everyone. Busy schedules, band practice, and other commitments constantly pull us away from the table. Not to mention the times I don’t know what to cook, I forgot to thaw the chicken, someone has an attitude, or they’re just too picky! When I want to give up, I dig in, fight through and remember these truths:
It doesn’t happen unless it’s on the calendar. As our kids have grown and their schedules become more complicated, we all have to talk about it and choose our family dinner nights. We’ve eaten as early as 4:30 p.m. and as late as 8:00 p.m. just to have a few meals together each week. Because everyone is part of the decision, they make more of an effort to be there.
It’s not about the food. I have gone from cooking for 5 with a few picky eaters to cooking for more than 10 at Sunday lunch. My worry has changed from “will they eat this” to “will there be enough!” I won’t deny that food has to be part of the focus. But both home cooked or take out can bring your family around the table for connection and conversations.
It’s about the relationships. We have tried to create an atmosphere where friends are welcome but cell phones aren’t. We call it being “fully present.” We’re not perfect at it, but putting cell phones away at dinner gives us a better chance at connecting with those in our presence. Sharing highs and lows of the day is a great way to get everyone, youngest to oldest, talking and the memories you make are priceless!
You may need a bigger table. I started making a big Sunday lunch when I realized it was one of the few times we were all available and now it’s become a Bonham tradition. I admit though, some days I’m tired and I don’t feel like cooking or setting the table. But when the door opens and one more walks in, I see how my kids welcome their friends and it motivates me to keep going. I was glad to buy a bigger table… some things are worth the investment!
It’s worth it! At this point in life, I see my efforts paying off. Our kids are in their early 20s now and not all living at home, but everyone still looks forward to the connection that happens when we come back to the table. When we are face to face, talking and listening, laughing and fighting it out, family is found. Our relationships are richer because of the meals we have shared together and the people who have sat with us along the way.
So don’t let the excuses of being too busy keep you from connecting. Talk to your family and friends and decide when you will come to the table. You won’t regret it!
Kristin Bonham is the women’s ministry director for Grace Family Church. She’s been married to Chris for 24 years and is mom to Taylor, Abby, and Casey. She loves the beach, New York City and traveling with Chris to anywhere tropical. She collects books and reads some of them. Her favorite part of the week is Sunday lunch with family and friends around the table.
Well said Kristin! I LOVE it when I have my whole crew around the table. It is so rare and so precious.
I never thought about buying a bigger table!! Great idea 🙂
Love you sister,
Thank you Pat! As the kids get older, the conversations get richer : )
I love cooking for a bunch. Seems it has been in my family genes. My Grandmother cooked on a road crew in Canada in Northern Manitoba when they were putting in roads and telephone lines and electrical lines. She was a young bride and her husband was a construction worker. They travelled in a covered wagon and her cooking facilities were pretty much like you see in the western wagon trains in movies.
Since the winters were so brutal, the crews worked from early spring usually in late April, until the ground became frozen, about October. In the winter, they returned to Swan River and Grandpa built houses and businesses. After the 5th child came along, they no longer worked on the road crews.
Can you imagine the dinner table for that crew and the families that worked along with them? Talk about a tough job. She cooked breakfast, provided lunches and then a big supper for a crew of about 30 AND dealt with her own children’s needs – in the wilderness – with no grocery stores – had to haul water – do dishes by hand – butcher then cook fresh killed meat – and bake bread, biscuits, rolls, pies, cakes and cookies. She had 2 helpers who did most of the grunt work, but I really admired her pioneer spirit. Perhaps she’s where I get my adventurous spirit from.
Needless to say, we always went to Grandma’s house for the holidays and with 11 children, 7 grandchildren she was preparing meals for a gang again. Those meals were huge and none could compare to the joy and fun we had as a family. She baked her own bread as long as I can remember and canned everything from the gardens. Her basement was filled with jars of jams, jellies, vegetables, fruit, pickles and even canned chickens. She was the best cook, baker and canner I have ever known. No one ever went hungry at Grandma’s house.
She was a real homemaker and enjoyed what she did. She was the happiest woman I ever saw when she was able to give up the wood stove, and got an electric one. She even got an electric fridge and could give up the old ice box.
Grandma was one of the greatest influences on my life and the one who taught me how important the family table was. She also taught me about God and how He should be the center of all we do.
God Bless you Grandma. I love you and will see you when we meet again in God’s kitchen, ’cause I know you’re there, taking care of the crews.
Wow Trudy! What a heritage you have been given. Thank you for sharing!
Food family fellowship
I love this so much because it’s one of my favorite family things to do, too! Time around that table is PRECIOUS! I don’t think a lot of people get that it’s about connecting and those moments are where a lot of life decisions, love, laughter, problem solving, etc. happen. Great post Kristin!
You are so right… especially the problem solving and life decisions. A lot of influencing happens at the table!
Excellent blog post! Thanks for the reminder about the importance of eating together.
Thanks Renee, It can be tough after a long day but so worth it!