I have many memories from my childhood of mealtimes. My mom and dad loved to have company for dinner. What I remember most are the conversations and laughter, the praying and singing.
For my parents, the mark of a successful dinner was when all stayed at the table until it was time to leave, which often was long into the evening.
In raising my six children, family mealtimes were very important. As my wife Ione and I share memories with our now young adult children we often hear, "No matter how busy we were or how bad we messed up, we always knew there would be a place for us at the table, and that almost every evening we would have a family meal."
When we gathered around a table, we were doing more than finding an efficient way to distribute food and accomplish our responsibility for feeding each member of our household. We were nourishing the bonds of love and care that made us a family.
Increasingly we Americans eat alone because of the pace of our lives. We eat separately in quickly prepared meals at home, dinners purchased at fast food restaurants, or those eaten on the run or at our desks. We seem to be losing the human connections that come with our daily bread. So often one of the loneliest times after the death of a spouse or after leaving a close-knit household is when one eats alone.
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