Neutral Zone

22 Aug

Meal time has always been important in my home.  Even in childhood.  I grew up in the midwest, and supper was at 5:30.  Period.  My mom served up the evening family meal consistently every night at that time.  And all 5 of her children had to be present and accounted for.  Table cleared off.  Butts in seats.  Hands and face clean.  But don’t think for a minute we wanted to miss our supper.  The food was definitely a highlight, but more importantly, the laundry of the day was about to be aired.  Trust me…no one wanted to miss any juicy details!

Family meals were very spirited when I was growing up.  A big family, a tight knit neighborhood, and food worth fighting my brothers for meant a noisy happy meal.  Loud discussions, news of the day, and  perhaps some off beat gossip was worth showing up for.  But more importantly, it was the one time of day when the entire family gathered during busy family life.  It is when we connected.  Supper was lively, but it was always pleasant.  Fun.  Together.

When I became a mom, family meals became a mainstay for my children as well.  My children have come to expect this as normal.  And if friends are over, they join us as well.  I learned a long time ago that family does not equal relatives, so if you are in my home, you are family.  And our meals are very spirited.  Lots of great conversation.  Current events.  Daily happenings.  And occasionally, a little gossip!

Meal time should be neutral.  Family meals should be a fun experience, and a respite from the stress of daily living.  Topics should be non inflammatory, upbeat, and positive.  It can be a time to gently direct manners and etiquette, but quietly and in the context of the meal.  it is so important that home be a “safe zone” for family members.  Everyone should be allowed to totally be themselves at home.  Let it all hang out.  And that includes during meals.

Family meals are a highlight of my life.  Always have been, and probably always will be.  I love having folks gathered around my table.  The chatting, the food, but most importantly, the personal connection lifts my spirit.  I believe that it does this for everyone around the table.  Which is why I think it is crucial for all families to have daily meals together.  No matter how challenging it is to get everyone together, it is always worth it!

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One Response to “Neutral Zone”

  1. Shirley Klingele August 22, 2012 at 3:50 pm #

    My dear sweet daughter, you made my day today, as I have been feeling a bit blue. many factors come with that. 🙂 any way this was so beautifully written and I need at times to remember times at home were good, humerous and well. you do have a way to write that is so heartfelt and with good memories and good sense. You are the best mom ever and you do try to get us all together more than any one. I appreciate that in you, thanks for being thoughtful and giving in all that you do, keep it up. I love you, mom 🙂

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