Restaurants in two dozen states are closed except to take out or drive thru orders. The COVID-19 pandemic experiences in almost every country in the world may be different from one another but the recommended adjustments in our lives are similar. Eighty years ago, our country rationed items needed in the war effort. Forty years ago, the Arab Oil Embargo stopped the transport of crude oil to the United States, but we have never experienced doing without things that are in full supply simply because it was dangerous to be together. This is a completely different kind of doing without.
Ideas for how to spend our time can be found all over Instagram or Facebook or even Twitter. Filling our time is different from choosing what could make a real difference in our futures. As I consider the adjustments made in my life and others in my circle of awareness, one significant change is worthy of recommendation to your household.
I recommend that you purposely, intentionally, regularly plan to eat meals together with the people closest to you in your life.
Please keep reading. This is not an idle thought. I’m not arguing for tradition or the restoration of the good ole days. I’m not trying to begin some kind of rant about electronic devices. I’m suggesting that one of the most significant things you can do as a family unit or even as a group of close friends is break bread together.
Meals require planning. They don’t just happen. Unless you think sitting in your car at Sonic is a good way to eat 21 meals a week, someone is going to have to plan a menu, buy some groceries and prepare some dishes.
I could eat Mexican food every meal for weeks. I wouldn’t even notice unless you restricted me to only one menu item. I am aware that some of my friends don’t like Mexican food at all. Deciding what to eat is often more difficult than planning, shopping, measuring, cooking and cleaning up – all put together.
Deciding what to eat forms connections and even creates alliances. When the back seat wants Chinese and the front seat would rather have American food, the war is on! The driver may have a distinct advantage, but the back-seat alliance may tip the scale.
After you decide what to eat (or carry out), the decoration decision takes precedence. My mother can eat on a TV tray but if we are going to eat at the table, she insists on a full set of flatware at each setting. Deciding whether to use paper plates or fine china will change the atmosphere for whomever sits at the table! You change the kind of conversation that will occur over the meal by the decorations you plan to use. Table setting changes the atmosphere and the way we relate to one another.
The cast of cooks may be determined by the size of the kitchen, but the process of cooking is where some real conversation can begin! Chopping ingredients, baking bread, selecting spices, simmering ingredients together—all over conversation about life’s important events and issues—this takes real time! You can’t rush a good meal preparation!
There have been times when all this deciding, decorating and cooking took considerably longer than sitting and eating the actual meal. We short-circuit the conversation possibilities when we order take out and wait 5 minutes on someone to serve it up hot.
If you are restricted to work at home with school out and rain outside, there’s nothing like a good meal that you decide upon, decorate for and cook together! You have plenty of time to share your thoughts and your lives together. It can truly make eating together a bonding experience. Now, turn off the television and enjoy one another.