I’ve written about eating dinner together as an extended family before and I probably will again. But this is something I think we have begun to dismiss or take for granted as a people. Eating together as a family is a wonderful thing, eating together as an extended family, even more wonderful.

On Mothers Day my kids and my sister took a poll of the mothers in the family of their favorite foods, and with a delicate hand chose something from each persons list and put together a dinner from the results. It was a delicious meal of twice baked potatoes, London broil, fruit salad and home baked rolls, with a delicious chocolate cake for dessert. They all worked together so it wasn’t an effort that killed anyone, yet it reeked of love and service and hands that love.

At the table was a great grandmother, a grandmother, a mother, an aunt who plays the role of mother almost every day, young women who will be mothers someday and two little girls who love a mommy. It was a calm evening of food, memories, laughter and love in a room that we meet in almost every week. Everyone pitched in to do the dishes, everyone stayed too late to visit, everyone compared lists and calendars and ideas for the coming week. We talked of coming weddings and ways to make them memorable, we talked about babies and work and everything and nothing. That’s the way of family dinners, we connect, we learn, we become more and more of a family, sharing and teaching and learning to communicate.

The multiple generations at this Sunday dinner gives our lives such continuity, gives our kids roots as well as wings. It has in a short amount of time become the thing we all look forward to every week and the thing we plan the most. It means our family is together, becoming bonded, it means we have the opportunity to learn and to teach, it means that no matter where we live or move to, no matter what we are doing, no matter how hard life gets, we know that at that table the family gathers to eat together to pray together to catch up on the news and to help one another.

What better way to teach children the power of family and where they come from? What better way to protect the bonds that make us a family? What better way to introduce new family members and help them feel at home and accepted? What better place to share information, to coordinate schedules, to invite one another to special events? What better way to teach respect, manners, good eating habits, gratitude, than at the family table?

Mothers Day Dinner was really good and it was very nice not to have to cook it, but every Sunday is a wonderful meal and a great experience because we meet together to eat and to become more and more of a family.