By: Dr. Gregory Popcak
Our family table is an incredibly important part of our life together. We have kids from college-age down to 7yo and sitting around the family table for meals, and especially dinner, has been a critical part of our life as a family from the very beginning. Besides being the place where we eat our meals, the family table has, over the years, been the place where we discover what’s going on in each other’s lives, pray, share and learn about our faith, and laugh. There is lots of laughter at our table. One of the things all the kids have enjoyed doing around the dinner table over the years is discussing the Catholic faith and why we believe the things we do. Being able to have these casual conversations about our faith has taught the kids to be able to explain their faith both confidently and charitably with others to a remarkable degree. Our faith discussions are usually pretty rambling–which is part of the fun.
Another one of our traditions is playing a game after dinner. Usually at least twice a week, we choose a short 20-30 minute family board or card game from the shelf and play together. Some families might wonder how we keep college age and younger children engaged in the game. Simple. The game is incidental. In our home, we’ve always practiced the motto that what we do is less important than that we’re doing it together. Sure, having fun is important, but the most fun part of any game is the conversation and joking that goes on while we play. Whether “trash talking” about Candyland (“There is no ‘U’ in Candy Castle!”) or having a family discussion over a game of Uno, the point is always the relationship. The family table is the place for snacks, and hot cocoa after sledding and snow men, and High Tea (the once or twice a year we can manage it), craft projects. It is the place for homework and tears and sharing current events and so much more. In many ways, the family table isn’t really a table at all but a kind of altar for family communion where the ordinary events of family life are consecrated and transformed so that they might transform us into a the loving, joyful, grace-filled family God is helping us become day-by-day.
Life gets busy for all of us. But if you and your family have not sat down for a meal together for some time, try it. You might be pleased with how it brings you and your loved ones together, even if just for a short period of time a day.