The fact: Families are decaying.
The solution: Food and what we do when we eat it.
Look around your neighborhood and you will see husbands, wives, and partners going their separate ways. You’ll hear a ton of reasons, yet food may be the culprit and the solution.
And notice the seemingly functional families where members live in the same house, but they hardly ever see each other. Food may be the root of the issue and the solution.
Mom and/or Dad get up in the morning, grab a quick coffee and toast, and off they go to work – no time for a real sit-down breakfast. Or it’s out of the shower, out the door, with a stop at “Timmy’s Drive-Through” for a breakfast of Canadian champions – an extra large double-double coffee with a honey-glazed doughnut.
At home, the kids get up, push themselves out the door, and trudge to school, with or without breakfast. They scarf down a burger and fries or pop and chips for lunch. After school they snack on whatever is easy and available, by themselves.
Supper is a frenzy of grab-it-on-the-go as some folks head out the door to hockey, volleyball, or whatever is in season. Other members of the family roar off to another meeting. Communication consists of notes on the kitchen table.
For a less active family, supper means everyone fills their plate and munches, with eyes glued to whatever happens to be on TV. Communication consists of, “Pass me the spuds” or “Gimme that remote”.
You may be thinking, “OK, that happens in some homes. How will food improve family life?”
It’s not the food, it is the conscious and deliberate act of sharing food with our family, where we sit, eat, and celebrate our lives together.
Throughout history, it has been a tradition for families, tribes, and communities to gather for celebrations, and a feast is normally a part of the celebration.
What do we do at Christmas, Easter, and Birthdays? We eat, drink, talk, laugh, and play together. Regardless of the occasion, it is the gathering, and communicating that really matters. And yet, food is the common thread to what we do. It is the food that provides the opportunity to stop our hustle and bustle, sit down, and share our love and appreciation with other human beings.
Food can solve the family problem and here is the daily challenge for you, if you choose to accept it – make a conscious agreement with your immediate family to eat your meals together every day. “Be” together in mind and body, so turn off the weapons of mass distraction: TV, Ipod, radio, cell phone.
Breakfast – Get up early so you can share a sit-down family breakfast. Plan and prepare the feast together or each can do their own thing. Sit together at the same table, at the same time, and actually speak and listen. Share the great opportunities in-store for the day. An added bonus is that you are providing your body and mind with nutritional requirements for healthy living.
Lunch – Hey, I understand this may be tough to get together for this one. If you can, make eating together at lunch a habit as well.
Supper – Create an evening celebration. Make it a team effort so one person does not feel saddled with the planning, preparation, and clean-up. Work together, sit together, eat together, and share the greatest parts of your day together. I repeat, turn off the weapons of mass distraction. Allow the phone to take messages so you are not interrupted. After all, who is more important, your family whom you love and care for, or a tele-marketer soliciting donations for “The Foundation For Kids Who Ran Away From Home Because Their Family Didn’t Feast Together”?
Your success depends on your conscious commitment to make this happen for the long-term. Ask your family for their input, support, and commitment. Negotiate an agreement that works for all. “Ask” rather than “tell”.
Will this strengthen family bonds? The close-knit, happy families I know do this.
Carol and I attribute much of our success, as a couple and a family, to this conscious habit of celebrating life as we eat together.
If you say, “we can’t afford the food”, my offer from the last article (Multiple Personality Disorder – I’ve Got It, Do You?) still applies. Accept that challenge and com’on out. I’ll joyfully give you some dang squash.
Gather the clan, sit, eat, and celebrate together. You are creating powerful memories that will improve society for decades. And have fun with it.