Updated: Oct 21, 2019
Make eating together a ritual that feeds the body, mind and soul. Create lifelong memories and experience the personal and collective benefits of being present, together, in the day to day.
Families are in transition. We are mobile. There are increasing demands on our time and attention at earlier and earlier ages. We also live in a world that is increasingly focused on technologically incentivized individual experiences. Food preparation, however, has and can continue to play an essential role in cultivating and maintaining family continuity.
I have always approached meal time, specifically dinnertime, as THE essential family ritual. There are a few simple rules that have worked for us.
Whoever is in the house eats together. (No coming for a plate and then back off to separate activities.)
We wait for everyone to be seated before anyone begins eating. This reinforces togetherness. If someone in the family is “doing their own thing” it directly impacts everyone.
No screens or phones allowed. This means TV’s off and no phone at the table, even face down. They are not to be seen or heard other than the occasional minute for photo opps at the beginning. Believe it or not, uninterrupted conversation with loved (or even tolerated) ones is necessary for our development. Other than the few of us who are really tied to life and death occupations we can afford to not respond immediately to the most recent alert from our social media, email or text apps.
Everyone plays a role. Eaters not involved in cooking, set the table and/or clean up. It is important to create communal responsibility.
Families can also bond around menu planning, grocery shopping, food preparation or food preservation.
The truly adventurous even explore food production. I’ve found few things in life more fulfilling than having a meal come full circle from starting a garden, to planting seeds, to harvesting, to sharing. Yes it is slow, it requires patience and foresight. It also binds us to place, purpose and to each other like few things can.