The Family Table

PARENTHOOD -- Season: 2 -- Pictured: (l-r) Monica Potter as Kristina Braverman, Erika Christensen as Julia Braverman-Graham, Joy Bryant as Jasmine Trussell, Tyree Brown as Jabbar Trussell, Dax Shepard as Crosby Braverman, Sarah Ramos as Haddie Braverman, Lauren Graham as Sarah Braverman, Bonnie Bedelia as Camille Braverman, Max Burkholder as Max Braverman, Craig T. Nelson as Zeek Braverman, Peter Krause as Adam Braverman, Mae Whitman as Amber Holt, Miles Heizer as Drew Holt, Sam Jaeger as Joel Graham, Savannah Paige Rae as Sydney Graham -- Photo by: Florian Schneider/NBC

{source} Parenthood cast, from season 2 NBC

While I was sick last month with the winter-crud, I binge-watched the final season of Parenthood. My favorite scenes were always where the whole family came together to share a meal. Dave loves the show Blue Bloods for the same reason – those Reagan-family Sunday dinners.

blue bloods family dinner

{source} Blue Bloods, CBS

At exactly 5 o’clock pm while I was growing up, every night of the week (except Sunday, when we’d wait to eat until after Sunday night church service), my mom had dinner on the table. Like all families, we were busy with life, mostly school and church. And since my dad was the pastor of the church, he was preaching mid-week services, or visiting the sick, or leading board meetings a lot of the evenings. He worked hard all day and continued his ministry in the evenings. So that 5 o’clock suppertime was our family time. Ross-the-Boss, Mrs Moss and all the Little Landers.

Though I couldn’t have realized then the power of the connectivity of those simple meals, usually always served with white bread and butter on the side, I cherish those people and those nightly meals in the halls of my heart. I cannot imagine a simpler, nor safer time, than around that table.

gather restaurant


When Dave and I were raising our kids, we ate around the table, too,  though the hour could be anywhere from 6 to 8 o’clock, even later (which my parents found mortifying). We ate at the table until life got really hectic as the kids got older and we let up. As the first of our kids became busy teens, we drifted from the table. We still hung out together as often as possible, had “family days” with just us, sometimes eating on the back deck or at a local eatery, but often it was a pizza while watching a movie. Together, but not talking, not having “face time.”

These days, 4 added-on children by marriage plus the ten grandbebes they have blessed us with, it’s hard to find a table big enough. But each time we can make it happen, find a few hours to get together and share a meal in a crowded room or at a park, our hearts nearly explode with love.

We’re a big group now. 21 of us, so far. If we thought the late nineties were a challenge with 7 of us, we could not have comprehended these days.

Christmas afternoon 2015

The Dave & Jeanie Rhoades Tribe, Christmas afternoon, 2015

Last night we all came together. We gathered for the first time, the whole bunch of us in one place, since Christmas. It was “Italian night,” with pastas in cream sauce and paleo variations, too. We topped it off with the seriously sweet “Fruit Pizza” in celebrating Averi’s 8th birthday. And some of us ate in the kitchen and we popped up a table in the living room and some ate seated on the floor or sprawled on the couch.

And I am fully aware, in a way I didn’t understand 20 years ago, that these moments together are not promised, and they’re not easy to come by, but they’re worth the work to make happen.

Whenever I get the chance to nose in and disperse advice, I tell young families:

“Eat together. Eat supper (or dinner, or whatever you want to call it) around a table together. Make it a deal to set the table and cook the food. And don’t make my my mistake and let that go too early. Turn off the TV and talk. Talk about your highs and lows or how your day went or any number of mundane topics. Just look at each other and talk.” -this advice brought to you by an older and wiser woman

And I mean that. No matter how hard it is to establish the routine. or how many complaints you hear, this will be the most impactful hour of each day for your familia. I truly believe this: this is where family magic happens – breaking bread together, sharing daily life, being comfortable with “just us.”

I came across this commercial today and wanted to share it with you. It is what instigated this post.

Who Would You Most Like to Have Dinner With? By Masterfoods, Australia

“Let’s make time for the people who matter the most.”

Gather  –  Cook  –  Eat  –  Repeat

Face time your family. But for real, in person, around the table. Have dinner together. It will be the most powerful hour of your day. These are your people, they need your face, your words, your time and your love. Gather ’round the table and eat. Listen and share, give and receive. The family table is where it all begins…

magnolia market they broke bread

{source}  They broke bread in their houses and ate together with glad and sincere hearts.” Acts 2.26, Those Fixer Upper people do the coolest things – like that scripture on this wall!

38 thoughts on “The Family Table

  1. “And I am fully aware, in a way I didn’t understand 20 years ago, that these moments together are not promised, and they’re not easy to come by, but they’re worth the work to make happen.”

    So true! I miss the days when dinner around the table was always a given. Those days went by MUCH too quickly.

  2. I love this Jeanie. I too feel I let the busyness of life with teenagers rob us of the final years we would have had….around the table. Even now, gathering everyone for a monthly birthday celebration is so much work but I keep telling myself, if we don’t do this, we’ll never be all together as a family. It’s a must.

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