Growing up, meals were as much food for the soul as they were for the body. Incidents and encounters were related and exclaimed over. When I was an exchange student, I discovered that my Swedish Mama ran her tables the same way. We sat and we talked. I loved it.
I have learned more about people and their families seated around a kitchen (and ok, even a dining room table) than any place I can think of. Even now, when called to a hospital bed, the sweetest and most potent stories still seem to come over food.
I ate three meals a day with my family until I started 10th grade. Today, many families tell me they don’t manage a meal a week, let alone a day together. I mourn what they miss. I watch couples and families at dinner, all involved in their technology, and pity them the loss of story. They don’t know the rhythm of the give and take, the hesitancy before the heart opens to reveal a closely held dream. Who else but friends and family will, when the dream of becoming a hockey player is recounted, will respond first with an eye roll and a “well, you’d better learn to skate, then,” followed quickly by constructive questions and suggestions about how you might overcome your lack of balance and coordination.
Friends and families make us better people. We do the same for them. For me, much of that growth happens around a table, when someone who loves us well, sits back to listen or leans forward to question. Add good food, and you’ve got a moment well-worth cherishing for the rest of your life. I have laughed the hardest… and probably sobbed the most openly. I’ve bragged and confessed. I’ve listened and welcomed. I’ve been less than lovely and my very best self. I’ve concocted or ingested the worst food and they’ve been the sweetest feasts. Friends. who else would you trust with your dreams?