Our greatest gifts are those from the heart that continue to give long after we are gone.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Family Feast

                                  A Sunday picnic under the apple trees...

Share three things about your day. This is the line we've used at our dinner table since the children were old enough to speak. Last night's table talk was a cornucopia of stories about bizarre dreams, various uses for the avocado, a long inquiry about a "bahcheeto" (based on our 4-year-old son's vocabulary), a list of 101 reasons why our teenagers should be allowed to attend a party (followed by one reason why they won't). We make it a purposeful endeavor to share our lives at the dinner table because this is the common daily gathering place where we define who we are as individuals, as well as who we are as a family.

Dinnertime seems to permeate with many unexpected graces. Our children reveal important emotions that define their experiences of the day and help us as parents understand them better. Matthew, our youngest communicated his worry one evening when recalling how earlier in the day "Grammie's table broke and the glass went crash all over the place!". He recalled happiness when remembering he ate a "pocksicle." He shared his need for security when telling about nap time ("Bear slept wis me"). We each share, but listening is essential.

At the table we establish traditions (and boundaries). Monday is pasta night. Always. On Mondays we bond over spaghetti, or fettucine, or macaroni and cheese, or lasagna, because one should not consume pasta seven days a week as formerly requested by my daughter prior to the designated pasta day. This was discussed in great length many years ago at the family table as we ate a particular meal that was completely noodle-less (to young kids this tragedy needed fixing!). One Monday night we had an orange-themed dinner because we HAD to have noodles (and I hadn't been grocery shopping), so we ate a box of macaroni and cheese, a side of steamed carrots, washed down with orange juice, and served with some Halloween-orange napkins. The kids remember this with such pleasure you would think I was awarded chef of the year. Noodles define a part of who we are. They also help us make important memories.

We break old rules at the table, like the one that says "children ought to be seen and not heard." Ours not only talk, but they sing musicals. In fact, they think life is a musical. To Bye Bye Birdie's "Put on a Happy Face" they sing, "...let's spread ketchup all over the place...". Their forks often break into dance routines (while twirling pasta). They know that in their own musical life there will be singing and dancing and drama and many characters they encounter and climactic moments and happy endings. They use the dinner table as a place to try out different scripts, such as what to say to mean people so they are well rehearsed and Christ-centered. The table serves as their overture for life, and as parents, we couldn't applaud more.

Most importantly though, we pray. We thank God for many things: food, friends, opportunities, others in need, personal requests, and on a busy night there is the rare occasion when we thank God for chicken nuggets. With Christ at the center of our meal, we are abundantly full. And incredibly thankful.

Recently, the kids have dubbed our family as "Team Drendel" (followed by a woot-woot). I love the sound of "Let's go Team Drendel -- woot woot!!" as we exit the driveway for any outing, whether it be a fun adventure that lies ahead of us, or simply the gas station. The sound of Team Drendel fills my heart with a song that could never adequately be captured in a musical. I believe Team Drendel emerged over the course of many many years... and waaaaayyyyyyy more noodles.

Bone appetite!


  1. You are making some wonderful family memories that you can delight in when your children are in their own home and raising children of their own. They are starting life with a wonderful lesson that the family is God centered as well as life centered. Very proud of Team Drendel. Whoot whoot!

  2. What a charming and wonderful family you have! God Bless and much happiness and family-building to you all.

  3. I love your dinner ritual and its many outcomes. Family time at meals is an excellent way to know and understand each other. Thank for being such smart and loving parents to my beloved grandchildren.