“It helps to imagine an ornate gold frame. Pick it up (don’t worry; it’s only pretend) and place it around the image that appears when you say ‘supper at my house.’ Bet the picture you see is very specific: These are the seats we sit in, the things we discuss. Here is the person who shows up last. That is the bowl we use for the rice…. Sitting down to a meal together draws a line around us. It encloses us and, for a brief time, strengthens the bonds that connect us with the others members of [our family], shutting out the rest of the world.”
I love photography; that is why I love this quote. It tells you to stop for a minute and observe. To pull up the image of your family mealtime. Can you see it? It can seem so trivial: What’s the big deal? You rush around, trying to get everything hot and on the table at the same time. Everyone comes, eats, leaves and you clean up. However this author is challenging us to take a step backwards and take a long, slow look at this seemingly mundane activity. There is something more that happens here.
Mealtime is a gathering. The people you love the most come to the same place at the same time. Conversations happen; memories are made. There is laughter and tears. A strong family bond begins to form—a bond that grows stronger by doing it again tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after that.
The mundane has purpose. If it weren’t for the ordinary duties of food preparation and kitchen cleanup, than this moment, this mealtime, this bond, wouldn’t exist.
So the next time you make dinner, hang that “mealtime picture” on the wall of your mind while you grate the cheese and toss the salad. You are making much more than dinner.
—from the archives