7 Days of Gratitude: Day 6 Conversations Round the Dinner Table
When my boys were growing up, we had dinner every night together in our dining room and I would ask everyone to share the ‘best, worst and funniest’ moments of the day. I started this ritual as a way to gauge how everyone was doing – paying attention to which category their focus was on so that I could help out if needed. But it became more than this. It taught us to slow down and take note of each day. It taught us to listen to each other and be empathetic. It taught us that family is a safe place, that we can laugh together at the silliest of things, including ourselves, and that everyone has ups and downs – but that each day we can choose where to focus.
Now that the boys are grown and flying the nest, we have fallen into the habit of grabbing food on the go. Increasingly, family dinners together in the dining room are the exception instead of the rule. And I no longer get to hear about their daily ups and downs – because of course 18 and 21 year-old men don’t typically share these things with their mother. In rare moments, I might get a bit of story, or a phone call telling me about their latest accomplishments, or a request for affirmation of what they have already decided to do. But I am no longer the one they turn to, to share their deepest feelings. It is now friends and lovers who are their confidants – and this is as it should be.
But I miss those days, those cozy dinner rituals. And my hope is that in having had them, we taught our boys to be forthcoming with their feelings, to know that sharing ups and downs is critical to a healthy relationship. And that if they don’t feel comfortable sharing, then perhaps they are sharing with the wrong person.
My hope is that my sons will gather around their own dinner tables and share stories with their future families. That they will teach their kids that life is full of ups and downs, and that this is ok. That they will continue to find humor in life and will retain the ability to laugh at themselves.
Looking back, I'd also ask: ‘What are you grateful for?’ to remind us that our lives, with all of the ups and downs, are beautiful. I'll definitely be adding this question when everyone is home for the Holidays.
I Am Grateful for:
The precious time my family spends together
Special holidays that remind us to gather around the table to share and be thankful
The bounty of food that graces our table each night
Volunteers who put food on the tables for those in need