What’s For Dinner?
February………the shepherds are back in their fields, the wisemen have gone home, the Christmas decorations are put away. Now it is time for the Christmas work to begin, sharing faith, hope and love with family, friends and community. My birthday falls just before Christmas and I received a wonderful book from a friend. “Table Life, Savoring the Hospitality of Jesus in Your Home,” by Joanne Thompson opened my eyes to the wonderful gift of hospitality as a way of doing Jesus’ work in the world around us. I love the fact that, as Joanne says, we don’t have to be fabulous cooks or have fancy houses to reach out to others inviting them into our homes to sit at the table with us and Jesus. Looking at Jesus’ life in the New Testament we see many examples of Jesus taking time to quietly share a meal with others. Even as a young child, Jesus needed to be fed as all of our children do. There was always a blessing and a spirit of gratitude to God for providing food. There was conversation and listening and a feeling of love present at the table.
One of the first chapters in the book caught my attention. The chapter was titled, “Thanks for Supper, Mom.” It addresses our current cultural tendencies to let our busy schedules at work and school become more important than taking time for the family to have dinner together at the end of the day. When it does happen we often find ourselves checking our phones or watching TV. We’re all guilty at times.
Finding time to sit down together for dinner is a gift we need to give our children. This is a time when they hear our voices thanking God for his gift of food and family. They learn a attitude of gratitude that they can take with them the rest of the week. When we look our children in the eyes and focus our attention on them they see our love for them and recognize our faith in Jesus to show us how to live.
Okay, I have four children and I remember some chaos at the table when they were young. It’s not always easy to make dinner a time that children look forward to. Joanne Thompson makes some suggestions. All of you have young children and this is an opportunity to establish a family dinner ritual. That includes involving your children and your spouse in the meal preparation. Good conversation happens when the table is being set or the carrots are being peeled. Let them all have some skin in the game. Be creative by using “special” dishes on occasion or lighting candles. Mix up the menu. Try serving a fruit dessert first and then the main dish. Crazy? Maybe not once in awhile. When you talk to your children, avoid general questions like, “What did you do today?” Be more specific by asking, “Who did you play with today?” “Did you like the story, “The Three Bears?” (We post the preschool activities of the day next to the classroom door to help you out with this.) Making dinner pleasant will make it a time your children will look forward to each day, now and when they are grown up.
Having regular family meals has been shown to have a positive affect on your child’s development cognitively, emotionally, socially, physically and spiritually. I’m thankful for the positive example my parents set for me and my siblings. I hope I have done the same for my children and grandchildren. Blessings on you and your family dinner rituals as your children grow and learn to join you and Jesus at the table.