Friday, November 17, 2006

Family Table Time

The Kitchen Table

A friend told me about her paratrooper cousin. During practice, all went well and his chute opened, but the next man didn’t have that good fortune. His chute failed to open. Somehow, he managed to grab hold of the cousin’s legs, and they landed in-tact under one parachute.

The kitchen table is a parachute for the family. Do you remember the kitchen or dining table in your childhood home? The evening meal is when my family ate together. The television was off, and after Dad prayed, we ate and shared the happenings in our days.

We often had orphans at the table, someone who had latched onto our family. Not necessarily persons without parents, just those needing a temporary home. We hosted a woman receiving treatments at M D Anderson Hospital and our grandmothers for extended visits.

Often, though, we had neighborhood kids and parentless children at the table. Rare, but two of my best friends were motherless, one killed in an automobile accident and the other taken by cancer. To this day when I see these two women, they mention our kitchen, and specific foods eaten there. One remembers the Russian salad dressing.

Today, home meals are sacrificed on the altar of busyness. Single parents are making a living and rearing children. In some dad-and-mom families, both parents work, besides chauffeuring kiddos to a plethora of activities. Too many family meals are eaten at 55 mph, fast foods eaten in minivan bucket seats.

The National Center on Substance and Drug Abuse lists ten positive results for families who regularly eat together at home. They can be found online. To help recapture family time around the table, follow this advice: One, clear off the table. Make it inviting. Find other places for school projects, junk mail and laptop computer. Shoo the napping cat from the table surface.

Second, on the weekend, plan the week’s menu and dining times. Buy ingredients, and prominently post menu and meal times. Third, during your together-meal, turn off electronics and have light-conversation. Don’t nag. Instead, say “only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs” (Eph. 4:20).

Fourth, in your prayer time, briefly roll-call the names of those gathered, giving thanks for their presence. Fifth, serve a light dessert and keep family and guests at the table a few more moments. Keep dessert simple. Serve fresh fruit or angel food cake with chocolate whipped cream.

In your home, bring back family meal time. Someone could be descending without a parachute and your table-time may rescue a precious child or the gathered “orphans.” Happy Thanksgiving!

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