(from The Daniel Plan Cookbook – Healthy Cooking for Life)

Sitting down to eat a meal together around the table is a great time to learn how everyone is doing. Whether you are enjoying a meal with friends on the weekend, or sitting down to a family supper during the week, mealtimes help people stay connected.  With demanding schedules and a multitude of activities, it’s easy to see why plans to eat together can often get derailed. But shared meals are a practice you’ll want to preserve.  Consider a meal a date with your loved ones, a reservation that reveals how much you care.

Take time at the table for everyone to share about what’s happening at school or work and talk about upcoming events.  It’s a chance to listen and an opportunity to be heard.  One approach that gets things started is called “highs and lows.”  Each person talks about a high point and a low point of the day or week. Letting each person open up in this way often leads to deeper conversations.  Then go around the table and affirm each other.  You’ll be surprised how much you learn during just one meal!

Once a week or month, set the table for a party to celebrate milestones and special achievements. Designate a special plate or table decorations for the occasion. When you stop to think about it, there is always something to celebrate besides the big events of a birthday, graduation, or anniversary. Recognize an accomplishment at work or school, a deadline that was met, a new skill learned, an answered prayer, or a new friend made. Celebrating together is a joy generator.  With a life full of commitments and obligations, isn’t it nice to welcome a little bliss whenever we can?

Take the leap.  Set a schedule and send out the invitation.  You’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.   It’s just a healthy way to nurture the ones you love.  At some point, take it a step further and invite others to join your family, perhaps a friend who lives alone, a neighbor who has recently divorced, or anyone who could use some loving care. Hospitality offers comfort and acceptance to whoever accepts the invitation. Open your door and your heart to share your meals and moments around the table. You will likely be inspired to make it an ongoing tradition.