It’s what I think of when I think about family.
It’s what I love about being part of a family.
Even when it’s just the three of us, mum and sons, sitting down to dinner together is our constant, our sanity and our joy. It isn’t always possible. Sometimes I’m on the other side of the world, sitting at a table over a shared meal, enjoying the breaking of bread with faraway friends. Sometimes duty calls. But whenever time allows, you will find our little family gathered around a long table come evening. Happily huddled around a well-laid table, no matter who is or isn’t joining us. Around a home-cooked meal, wholesome enough to fill my little boys’ growing bodies and minds, and to make Mum strong enough to keep up with her tearaways.
The dinner table is where manners are taught, where gratitude is expressed, where mindfulness finds a space. It’s where we learn to celebrate the simple things, like having a home and glorious warm food. And sometimes it’s where we celebrate the big things, like Christmas, birthdays, awards and learning to surf. Over a shared meal, we connect. Sometimes with each other, other times with new friends or the greater pride of cousins and aunts and uncles and grandparents. Around the table, we let go of homework and cellphones and video games and we focus on the people, the food, life. Yep, feel free to doubt my cooking skills, but never, ever doubt the power of dining together.
Sometimes our table is set inside a big barn next to our lodge in Zambia, or beside a hammock on the Zambezi’s banks, sometimes it’s laid out overlooking a pool in the suburbs of Cape Town. Sometimes it’s in a thatch roofed hut in Botswana. It doesn’t matter where the table is, what the table’s made of, or even if the table is actually a picnic blanket on the ground. What matters is the company. What matters is good food and making the time for your little tribe to share in it together.
It’s one of those things we look back on in ten, twenty, thirty years and remember fondly. It’s where nostalgia takes you. Unlike that video game or that full inbox…
Just in case you thought I was fibbing about our love of the shared meal, here’s some Instagram proof.