“How to announce the return of comfort and well-being except by cooking something fragrant. That is what her mother always did. After every calamity of any significance she would fill the atmosphere of the house with the smell of cinnamon rolls or brownies, or with chicken and dumplings, and it would mean, This house has a soul that loves us all, no matter what. ” Marilynne Robinson
We’re losing one from around our table this weekend.
I’ve been a mom for 24 years and I haven’t always known how sacred a thing it is to gather with my people around the table. This place where we feed them, listen to their stories, laugh at their jokes, and occasionally sit quiet because life with its grief and anger has gotten the best of us. This place where we teach them what it means to bow in thanks for daily bread. This place that breaks our backs because how can we possibly cook one more meal? This place where we’ve never been more aware of our shortcomings, but we just keep showing up to feed them anyway.
And then the long days turn into fast years and you face that first meal without that one you love.
In my mind, I try to avoid counting down the dinners because there’s a wall of tears that doesn’t need reminding.
Just 4 more dinners. How to say what these years have meant? How to hold such weighty things in our hands and hearts?
I remember how I’ve despised this job sometimes—the planning, the shopping, the cooking, the cleaning. Why are they always hungry every. single. day?!
I never saw the day coming that they’d go and an empty chair would leave my heart heavy.
This is no small thing what we do everyday, mamas. This meal is important. This table is sacred.
Sometimes we’re feasting and sometimes we’re just getting by but the time together around this table is changing us all.
We are so blessed by those who’ve come and gone from these chairs.
I hope you’ll linger extra long around the table tonight.
And remember that the time and effort you spend here feeding these people, with food and love, is so very special.
You are meeting your neighbor’s need in the most beautiful, life-giving way.
Bless you for your labor. It is not in vain.
And bless the ones who must leave.
We love you and it has been our privilege to share this table with you.
(I keep this quote close to me in the kitchen. It helps me remember.)
If you’re short on time for planning, let me offer this one little suggestion. Over the next month, add the meal you make for dinner to your iPhone calendar and then *repeat* it on your calendar every month. If you eat out, maybe add what you would like to have cooked for that night. (There’s no shame in your game!) A month from now, you’ll have a month’s worth of meals in your calendar and all the sudden, you’ll be a meal planning genius! I’ve got a whole meal planning series on my blog, but this little tip will get you started with almost no work!
Here’s what I’d love to know from you—what are your struggles when it comes to family dinners? Have you found any solutions that you’d share with the rest of your internet sisters?