Family dinners. They are a thing of nostalgia. They are revered by many yet practiced by few. They remain a romantic vision for most, even those of us for whom they are a regular occurrence.
What I mean is that even for those of us who understand the importance of family dinners – and have a beautiful picture in our heads about what they entail – the reality is often far less than the dream.
With two children, a husband, and two businesses, our family dinners are often rout with fret about who is going where, which activities we have coming up, deadlines we have, projects the kids have, and the usual craze that plagues most modern American families.
That said, one tradition I have instilled on my family for the past couple of years is a moment of gratitude. Before eating, each of us has a turn to say what it is we are grateful for. I began this practice when I started learning – and teaching about – the power that comes from living a life of deliberate gratitude, being thankful for the everyday miracles most of us take for granted. Stopping each day and reflecting on these helps to rewire our brains so that we become attuned to them and ultimately become acutely aware of the miracles that surround us each and every day, thus bringing more of them into our lives.
And tonight was no different, we did the same thing.
But then, something amazing happened. Something unplanned and spontaneous. My youngest daughter who is no more than five had a suggestion for a twist on our daily gratitude ritual. She asked if we could each go around the table and say what it is we loved about each of the other family members the most. Excited and eager, the other three of us quickly obliged.
And what happened next was nothing short of a miracle in and of itself.
We each took a turn. We looked at the family member we were speaking about and told that person what we loved – what we adored – about him or her. And the words that came out of our mouths – especially my children’s mouths – felt like Divinity was flowing right out of them, as if they weren’t even in charge of their own words.
“I love your kindness, your big heart, your silliness, and how much you love life,” my older daughter said to my younger daughter.
“I love how you dance, how smart you are, how you love to help other people, and when you play with me because we always have so much fun,” my younger daughter said to my older daughter.
Tears welled up in my husband's eyes as he listened and then went himself.
For a moment, time seemed to stop. The bliss, the joy, and the love I felt was palpable. “This is what happiness is,” I thought.
So while all family dinners won’t be void of kids fighting, adults rushing, the dog barking, the food burning, this one was. And I was so grateful for every single second of it.
So I encourage you to try it. Incorporate a gratitude ritual into your evening dinners. Have family members say what they love about each other. Or come up with your own spin on bringing love and grace into suppertime. I promise you, you won’t be disappointed,
Do you and your family have your own family dinner customs or traditions?
I’d love to hear from you, as would your other Shifties!
Who knows? Maybe we can all help enrich each other's lives easier and more quickly than we ever imagined. That’s what our tribe is all about after all, right?
Sending much love and gratitude from me to you.