Thursday, January 10, 2008

Dinner and the Scriptures

“Mothers, who are ‘primarily responsible for the nurture of their children,’ can be a powerful force for strengthening families when they use mealtimes to gather loved ones. They follow the example of the Savior to calm, teach, and help their families remember important things as they feed, cultivate, educate, and rear at the consecrated tables in their homes.”
Julie B. Beck, “Powerful Nurturing", Ensign, Dec 2005, 36–38
Photograph by Busath Photography

This year we decided our daily family scripture study would be after our evening meal. Our hope was that this time frame would help make our family scripture study a more successful experience, meaning, the entire family would be there. I well knew the busyness of our household and that regular scripture study would not occur unless dinnertime was judiciously observed.

We all eat at this house, there is no doubt about that, but eating together is another story. Our dinner meal had evolved into an evening buffet of sorts. Food was set out and you ate when you were available. If I wasn’t around to prepare the meal, it would escalate into a different realm altogether which was referred to as, YOYO Night, meaning “You’re On Your Own”; in other words, its every man (or child) for himself. I would come home and discover the remains of all sorts of concoctions that were definitely not in the best interest of my family’s health; not to mention the dirty dishes and kitchen, but they had been fed.

It seemed that when the children were younger it was a simpler time. Dare I digress with memories of past meals which evoke visions of grandeur: dinners carefully prepared, healthy, pleasing to the eye, and children happy to eat. My point is, that at one time, we ate together more consistently, but once the kids aged and their own agendas grew (not to mention Hughie's and mine too) things just got out of hand. Having the “buffet style meal” available to suit all schedules seemed brilliant at the time, but now that our new scripture study time slot loomed before me it got me thinking: I do believe the three youngest, Tom, Janna, and Sam have not had the privilege of our family sitting together for mealtime on a consistent basis, or at least they're to young to remember. Yes, there’s Thanksgiving and Christmas and the periodic birthday, admittedly, it's not like we never eat together, but you know what I mean. I knew the importance of this constancy, but I had been living without it for so long I really didn’t know what to do or how to change the situation.

The Sunday before we started our new declared goal we counseled together. When would dinner be served? Could we all be there? What would we eat? (Everyone’s likes and dislikes of food was an enlightening discussion.) We mapped out who would cleanup every evening, which consisted of two family members working side by side. We were all committed to the idea and wanted to make it work.

It’s only been a few days and the benefits are beaming bright. We’re a little more aware of our manners. Practice will certainly bring improvement. We’re delighting in one another’s company and it‘s been an avenue to hear all the daily news. Our meals have been better too and everyone is helpful. We’re not only physically nourished, but we top it off by being spiritually fed as we read the Book of Mormon.

I’ve had this experience before where I change my behavior and the Spirit immediately confirms that what I am doing is right. I sat at the dinner table last night and announced in the middle of our meal, “It feels soooooo ‘choose the right’ eating together!” Everyone was amused at my declaration. I am noted for such surmising, but no one commented or argued. They just smiled and kept eating because they too knew that our mealtime together was the right thing to do and they were glad to be a part of it.

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