Family meal evokes a myriad of emotional reactions. It can mean joy. It can mean pain. For me, it evokes a feeling of comfort and safety – so I guess I’m one of those lucky bastards that doesn’t have deep emotional scars running through the middle of my universe. Yeah, I’m not – I have no inner demons. I’m basically an average 40 something married mom of two great kids with a fantastic network of family and friends. So when my husband suggested that we host a family meal once a week for our extended family friends, I thought sure. Then I thought about all the dishes I’d have to contend with – but I decided showing our kids what it means to be part of a larger family/community was worth some dishwater hands.
As I started talking to friends and family about what we are doing I was surprised to learn that most of them thought this was revolutionary – you are going to cook/host an extended family meal every weekend? Or, you are going to cook from “scratch”? Or, why? I have two young children (1 and 3),and yes cooking is a challenge. I am just like every mom – I go to McDonalds (gasp!), I serve Macaroni & Cheese (but its Annies Organic), I buy Tyson Chicken Nuggets, and I feel guilt for each. I wish I was one of those moms who just owned what I do and realize I do the best I can and that’s all that matters, generally. But, Im not – I’m judgy and guilt ridden and filled with inner negative commentary about most things I do on a daily basis. So, yes I committed to hosting a family meal at my place once a week as a way to “cleanse” myself from all the crap food choices I made during the course of the week. Weird, huh?
Actually what’s weird is this is so much more than food. This is fellowship, true family, passion, joy, love, and commitment. This is becoming what we so easily lose in our busy, over scheduled world – we put down our phones (after we’ve taken a million pics) and we talk. Remember conversation? We talk during the cooking, we text during the week about the meal, we connect without being intrusive, we support without judging, we cook, we fight, we laugh, we cry, and its all because we decided as a family to sit down and eat what we cooked.
My kids are asleep and our closest family members are around us, and its quiet. No we haven’t had a fight – we are in harmony in silence. We have found a place for each of us in this swirling chaos but I believe each of us has found peace during these meals.
Ok, so its noisy too. Yeah we can have some knock down drag out nights too. We are an eclectic foursome that make up the core of these weekends. I am a lawyer turned stay-at-home mom turned meat distribution company manager. My husband is a contractor turned farmer. His sister is an architect with penchant for design. Her boyfriend is also an architect/forager/sommelier/cook. That’s our core group and we include who ever joins us for the weekend. My dad joined us one weekend. He is a physicist. He sat in the corner of my kitchen and smiled while we all argued and laughed and fussed over our creation. We’ve had some rough weekends when our guests didn’t get our volatile process for cooking. We are planning to have bigger events this summer with business associates and friends.
Our initial reason for doing this was to enjoy the farm life and focus on family, but now its become a creative outlet for each of us. A stress reliever – a sense of community and family. I can’t wait to see what the next few months bring.