I’m always hearing about how important it is to sit down together as a family for dinner. We did that growing up, but my schedule doesn’t always allow for that. As I’ve thought about it, I’ve found that it’s not really about food at all. You can have the same soul nourishing meal even if there isn’t any food involved. The full post is over on my wife’s blog, but here’s the cliff notes if you’re interested:
I happen to work at a restaurant as a server. I see all types of families and friends and how they eat together. This is fascinating to me because many times, even if families are together, there is still distance…huge emotional distance. There is no Together. They are spending time together, but there is no Togetherness. One time, a woman walked into the restaurant with her phone on her ear. I’m not sure if she was their mom, but the two boys with her had an iPad they played with the whole time. She walked in, ordered, ate, paid, and left without hanging up the phone. The boys, no older than 10, ate with their iPad (yeah, I’m sure they smeared it a little).
Were they together? Yes. Were they really Together? No. Did they spend actual time together? Yes. Was it healthy time? Not so much.
So a Family Meal should include enough time to be quality. It should be spent doing something that requires healthy, direct interaction. When you think about it, this really can be done without food.
So what is the Meal? That’s just it – the Family Meal is Time and Together, nourishing to the soul of the family. As a family, you should “feed” on quality, direct interaction. I’ve seen our family atrophy when there has been a lack of this food, and as I become more aware of this problem, I am increasingly interested in having Family Meals.
But wait, how do you have a Family Meal without food? Maybe the answer is obvious: plan times to directly interact with your family.
Each time your family feeds on Time and Together, the soul of the family is nourished, just as the body is nourished with balanced physical food. And just as your body has a sense of hunger, your family has a sense of hunger – for Time and Together. So plan times to directly interact.
Here’s how we do it.
Since we have noticed the difference between healthy Time and just time, and since we have seen the effects of being really Together versus just in the same room, we have our direct interaction in the morning.
It can be called by many names (we call it “morning time”), but the name is less important than the decision to “feed” on Time and Together.