I'm a big advocate of family mealtimes. In fact, if you read my family blog, you will think all we do is eat. It seems that way to the "head cook and bottle washer" too!
When we started building our home, Pepper was 15 months old and Sunshine was expected; we had just met her birthmother for the first time. Our vision for our home included a kitchen in the middle so it could be the center of our family activity. (Little did I know that it would also be the center of a racetrack. Every toddler to enter our door immediately runs the full circle several times.)
Since moving in, family meals have been a priority and they are still the norm for our family. Even in a household with two busy teens, we manage dinner all together several nights a week. When the girls were young, we started a family tradition that remains to this day and is much beloved by "the Littles." Each person in turn "gets the floor" and they tell us three things about their day: "What am I proudest of?", "What was hard for me today?" and "What would I have for a "do-over?" We don't do this every night because with little kids, it's a little repetitive, but we do it so often that our conversations naturally steer themselves that way. I think the important part about the table conversation was that from the time our oldest were small, we talked, personally, at the table.
You can imagine, then, how happy I was to learn about Father Patalinghug and his movement, Grace Before Meals. I first learned about Father Leo on a re-run of Bobby Flay's Throwdown. Father Leo is all about the family table and in his book by the same name, he encourages families to gather at the table before a beautiful meal and share. He gives ideas for special days to celebrate and conversation starters for those special meals. He's so inspiring.
He's hilarious too. Corny, kitschy, kooky, however you say it, he's an enjoyable speaker. We were fortunate today to have him celebrate a Mass at Saint Williams and even the little ones were laughing. Then later, he hosted a "family picnic" and demonstrated his famous Asian Fusion Fajitas. This is the recipe with which he defeated superstar television chef Bobby Flay in his "Throwdown." He spoke (and cooked) for nearly an hour about how this time together as a family is the absolute best way to keep the evil one at bay. He pointed out that many (secular) studies showed that kids in families who regularly eat dinner together are far less likely to use drugs, smoke, drink alchohol or join gangs. However, it wasn't only his cooking that inspired me although he has mad skills; it was his honoring of the family, of the Church and of the sacraments that had me at times laughing and at others, moved to tears.
I came away with a copy of his newest book, Spicing up Married Life, but more importantly with a renewed appreciation for the family table and the true value of what we are doing. I'm happy to know that we have a "televangelist" priest finding a new and innovative way to speak up for the family. If you are not already familiar with Father Leo, I hope you will take time to check out his wonderful ministry and television series!
We pics of Pepper and I with Father Leo but can't seem to get them off the phone. Oh well! Maybe next time!