As we begin 2021, there are two things we’re confident most families need: more compassion and more connection. There have been so many challenges facing us all in the past year that this month, and this winter, could feel very long and dark. Gathering for shared meals, with the intention of staying connected and giving each other some compassionate care, is one thing almost everyone can do regularly to help get through the winter.
For inspiration, we looked back at the stories real families have shared with us over the years, and chose 10 families whose dinnertime habits were great examples of compassion and connection. We hope revisiting these family stories will give you some simple, practical ideas you can use in your own home to keep mealtimes warm and nurturing.
- The Swanson Family live by the rule “No One Eats Alone.” No matter when a member of the family is ready to eat, there will always be someone else ready to sit with them and share some quality time.
- The Dineens wanted to better connect with their grandchildren at mealtimes, so they created their own set of grandparent-grandchild conversation starters.
- The Nelsons have lived all over the globe as a military family, and use recipes and food memories from their many homes to keep a sense of connection even when they’re apart.
- The Aasers faced a family crisis by pulling together and creating a shared responsibility for meals, across households and generations.
- The Darvicks created a sense of connection and continuity by starting a family dinner tradition rooted in their faith, which can be passed down to children and grandchildren.
- The Gonzalezes show compassion to their children by allowing each person in the family to choose a “Pass Food,” while fostering connections in their large family with shared dinner duties for all ages.
- The Townsends worked to improve their family relationships at dinner, and daughter Gabriela then used what she’d learned to inspire others through a school service project.
- The Walters overcame shyness and a lack of communication through a never-ending Uno game that gets picked up each night at dinner.
- The McGraths pulled together to face a big transition by making dinnertime into family reading time.
- And The Khans work on their connection weekly with a Sunday Family Meeting, followed by Family Fun Time.
We’d love to hear from more families about the ways they’re practicing connection and compassion — along with great food, fun and conversation! — at family meals this winter. If you’re interested in sharing your family’s story, contact us.