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Sharing a meal: embracing the company of one another

Our family recently enjoyed an early autumn breakfast on our back patio, on a rainy Sunday morning, with baked Mushroom Frittata, fresh out of the oven.

Soon we won’t be gathering anymore, as the colder weather sets in, and our two sons journey back up to college this very week. Oregon colleges start so late in the season, but I’m not complaining, because that means the gift of a few extra weeks at home with the boys, which I love!

We’re in the stage of life where soon all three of our kids will be embarking on their own lives. How quickly we’ll go from a busy, active life with college students, and one left in high school, with soccer, kid activities, and music lessons. Paul and I are adjusting to the reality that we’ll soon be creating a quieter life of our own.

Our sons are already on their way to “freedom” and autonomy, paving their own way in life, and my role now, as a mom, is to step back, pray, and let our sons gain their own maturity and competence. They’re now making their own decisions and managing their own lives, as they move in to adulthood. It’s not always easy as a mom to let go…

Back to the food – which, for me, always brings comfort!

Coming together as a family over a meal is more of a highlight now than ever. Even when there are extra stragglers (our kid’s friends, who are always welcome), the conversation is so different and interesting. I’m listening more attentively to their stories, what they are learning, how they are growing, my eyes open to how the world is changing, and I’m realizing how precious “today” really is.

There are always the “I remember when” stories that are shared. The reminiscing from our kids is not always the big picture of their past, but the tiny minutiae of life, experienced as only a child would remember.

Those memories have become who we were as a family back then, and have shaped us into who our family is today. So many times when I think about the past, my mind is drawn to the meals we’ve had as a family. Not specifically the food itself, because quite honestly, I’d never remember those specifics. But I remember the feelings of love. Love plus food equals comfort. Amen.

Today, in this blessed quiet September morning, I take stock.

I think of how food draws out good conversation. How it connects us, through nourishment and the loving hands that prepared the meal, and how we learn to embrace the company of one another.

Through years of transition, we listen and we love. Because this week, we’ll be standing at our front door waving our goodbyes, sending our boys back up to college.

And this day, too, will end. But hopefully in our journey ahead, we’ll still have many meals together.

Would you share the feeling and connection that you have with your family when sharing a meal?

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  1. Jessica

    Growing up in my family mealtimes were a rush. The TV was on, people ate at different times and there was little conversations and family connection. I didn’t realise how much I hated this until I started dating my husband and I saw how his family did things differently. Everyone ate together, around the table and meals were drawn out with updates on the day and stories of the past. Stopping to connect with each other as a family over mealtimes is a priority for us as a family, our little girl is only 5 months old and not yet weaned, but I so look forward to being able to start this family routine and tradition in our home.

    • Sandy @ ReluctantEntertainer

      It’s nice to try new things and traditions and to see how other’s do it. I think we can all learn from one another. Your family will be blessed as you move forward in life, because of your intentions and purpose of sharing a family meal. 🙂

  2. Jennifer Tankersley

    I also have three children, Sandy, and they are all in soccer. I am running to soccer practices &/or games 7 days a week (that is not an over-exaggeration). However, family meals are so important to me that I have gotten quite good at making dinner at breakfast time on the days when I know that I will not have time to make dinner in the afternoon/evening. Whether we eat at 5 pm or 7:30 pm, we have dinner together. It is such a time of connection.

    • Sandy @ ReluctantEntertainer

      Thanks for sharing Jennifer! I think it’s when our kids get older into high school years that the meal schedule really becomes difficult. But again, capturing the unusual moments and being willing to be flexible is what worked for our family. Love how you make dinner at breakfast time!

  3. Mateja

    Hello from England!,

    I love your daily nuggets of inspiration, even if I admit to not having as much time to dedicate to each one as they deserve!

    I read your latest post with envy. I wish this was the situation in my house. I am a mum of 2 small children (5 year old girl and a 2 year old boy) and I try very hard to make meal times family focussed. I cook organic, nutritious meals daily when I can, but make sure my children eat a cooked lunch and dinner over anything else. But instead of happy family picture, easy-flowing conversation, that you paint in your post, mine is, mostly as follows:
    ‘Ava: you can eat AND talk you know.’
    ‘Anton: stay in your seat please!’
    ‘Ava: we have now all finished our food and you are yet to put spoon #3 in your mouth.’

    etc etc… you get the picture… I don’t like meal times so much anymore…. I wonder if I created this situation or if this is just a cycle of a family while the children are still little. Am I focusing too much on food and not enough on the ‘experience’…. I know I should not be wishing the years away but college-aged kids sound so lovely!

    Take care

    • Sandy @ ReluctantEntertainer

      Hello, Mateja! Thanks for your honestly. I know (yes, do I know) that seasons come and go with our kids around the table. It is harder when the kids are little, but try to find joy and little nuggets of cute things that your kids are saying around the table. You could even write them down in a journal, then when looking back, you’ll appreciate those younger years even more. It does get easier – don’t lose hope! 🙂

  4. Kara

    As we start to enter a busier time of life, art club and sports and lessons, and our evenings get fuller and our dinners a bit more rushed, I’m trying to remember that it doesn’t always have to be “dinner together” as the standard (nice as it is).

    Breakfasts together, listening to each other’s plans for the day, grinning about bed head and pajamas, or lunches on the picnic table, or slow weekend meal times are special, too. Food together, that connection whenever it happens, is reason enough to savor and celebrate.

    Best of luck to your kids and your family as you start a new year!
    Thanks for your words today 🙂

    • Sandy @ ReluctantEntertainer

      That’s right, Kara. We’ve learned to take the unusual moments to connect with our kids. I remember being a bit disappointed when I realized that during the fall time we couldn’t always have dinner together. Looking back now, it all turned out beautifully and we are blessed! 🙂

  5. Tanya

    What a change that must be. My son is only 4 so I still have a while and can’t even beging to imagine what life will be like when he is older and out of the house.

  6. Lisa

    We have 4 kids, (all adults now) and also live in Oregon! We still try to get together for meals as often as we can. Even if we just all meet up for pizza!!
    I treasured those days when they were all at home, and some of the fondest memories were centered around eating. We didn’t always sit at the table, but we were always together. I remember my son bringing half the high school football team over for sleepovers, and making tons of breakfast burritos, with such joy. They were busy times indeed, but filled with so much joy, laughter and togetherness.

    • Sandy @ ReluctantEntertainer

      Hi, Lisa. So fun you are in Oregon, too! I agree, it doesn’t always have to be at the table, but just being together is the most important. I’m so happy our kids love coming home from college – they look forward to it. Awwww …. togetherness is good! 🙂

  7. Moriah

    Beautiful reflections in this post. I am moving toward peaceful, delightful mealtimes for myself and in my home. Growing up, mealtimes were stressful due to a stressed/angry parent. These emotions transferred to food and eating in general for me and I developed unhealthy ways of eating and relating to mealtimes and food. I still sometimes fight anxiety just eating with others.

    I am healing and learning to create a healthy attitude toward food and shared mealtimes. Any suggestions for creating peaceful, loving mealtimes with family?

  8. Melisa

    I love reading your stories, I have learned so much from them. With this particular one, I try to be very strong and positive; sharing meal time as a family is something that I have always wanted, however, my son is going on 5 yrs old and we are still to make it the norm. My husband and I both and 40 hrs a week 8 am to 5 pm and the evenings that I’m home he goes to school and the evenings he’s home I go to my part time job. And it breaks my heart every time I have to hurry and prepare food for him to eat while I do something else around the house. And when he’s home with my husband they sit in the leaving room in front of the TV while they eat.

    • Sandy @ ReluctantEntertainer

      Melissa, hopefully this is just a season in life for you. We all have seasons that are not as enjoyable as others, so the key is to make the most of each day. Gratitude is so important with our attitudes and accepting what each day holds for us. The days or weekends you are home, change it up and get the family together around the table if you can. If not, it’s not a defining factor for your family. What’s the most important is your kindness, words, and love that you give. 🙂

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