Eating dinner together was just normal when I grew up. Maybe we all couldn’t be there, with differing work schedules, school sports, and the like. Whoever was home, though, got a call to the dinner table. Our family was a rowdy bunch and our conversation could erupt into loud disagreements on any number of things. Still, we were together. We were family. It kept us bonded in many ways.
Eating together…crowding adults and their families around a long table…is still a delightful, much-anticipated tradition…at least for this mama. That delight of eating together spreads also to friends and to the workplace.
This weekend, I caught a YouTube video that really touched my heart. Especially given the events of this weekend in our state where a racist political rally turned deadly. Not that this little video produced by a major food company in Canada could help bring meaning to this violent weekend…but there’s a message.
In a time when we have the capability of being more connected with each other than ever, we can remain disconnected. Not seeing, not hearing, unaware of those around us or how we might engage with each other.
Eating Together as Co-Workers
In the busiest of days, there is nothing more delightful than breaking from work to eat with colleagues…says the extroverted, “loves people” person. Early in my career, working in a huge inner city hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, it was an effort to get off the patient floor down to the cafeteria. My co-workers used to tease me that once we got our trays and settled at a table, I would always sigh…like, out loud. It was just a relief to stop working for a few minutes…with good food to eat and surrounded with people I both liked and respected.
Susannah Snider lists three reasons why we should be eating lunch with our co-workers:
- It boosts production.
- It’s a networking tool.
- It makes you happier.
This was just one of many articles (both scholarly and popular press) related to the benefit of folks who work together eating together.
Eating Together as Family
People are so very busy these days that eating “on the run” is more the usual than not. Or everyone, exhausted, just eating in their various spaces around the house – in front of the TV or other screen. There is something almost magical in the habit of eating around a table. It is the same reason why couples with children need date nights – just getting across a table from each other does wonders for the conversations neglected in the wear and tear of parenting.
Cody Delistraty posts on the broad positive ramifications of families who eat together and what happens when they don’t. Eating together as a family can actually decrease addictive tendencies, enhance academic performance, and build closeness and community – with the family but also beyond the family.
Eating Together Across Racial Divides
“Have you ever had a person of another race in your home for dinner?” Two US senators, Tim Scott and James Lankford, have been asking this question to constituents for some time now. They were not surprised at how segregated the American dinner table was.
Out of this, they developed something they call Solution Sundays…where they encourage people to invite persons of another race to their homes to share a meal.Photo Credit: CNN
“For me, it’s hard to hate what you know,” Scott said. “And it’s just so simple. It’s hard to hate what you know.”
I want to be successful at this. Sure, I have friends, neighbors, and colleagues who are of a different race, but somehow I’m intimidated to mess with their Sundays. Why is that?!
Even Martin Luther King, Jr. talked about “11:00 on Sunday morning is one of the most segregated hours if not the most segregated hour in Christian America”. Maybe we could shake up Sunday dinner.
For some of you, this is “so yesterday”. For co-workers and family, we all are going all kinds of different directions. Slowing it down to have a meal together may take work and habit change…so worth it! As for crossing racial divides – maybe that is no issue for you. For example, we have family of “different races” so it’s part of our DNA. Still when something like this past weekend’s violence happens here, I think of where we can start to mend. Protest…sure. Pray…absolutely…and maybe also just lean in, across the table, over some food we both enjoy…and eat together.