I’ve always enjoyed cooking and feeding my family. These days when there is less to do, the things we do take on more importance. I find I am more intentional about preparing for the one time in the day when none of us need to be on our computers for school or work. I can enjoy some slow cooking. I can take care to mince the onions small enough so they don’t jut out of the meatballs when I roll them. I can methodically dice the pineapple and toss it into the Tupperware for tomorrow’s breakfast. As I take care in meal preparation and make sure the kitchen is safe and clean (because who wants to go to the hospital at a time like this) and beautiful (because we all long for beauty amidst these dark days), I count blessings. Five plates on the table. Five healthy bodies in this house. I am thankful.
At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, when the schools closed and my job as a substitute teacher came to a screeching halt, I knew right away the best thing to do would be to make a daily schedule for myself. It would fend off non-productivity and depression. The schedule is pretty basic but every item on it is something that’s important to me, so my goal is to check off each box each day. It has no time assigned for anything but 5:00 pm clean up to make dinner and 6:00 pm dinner.
The five of us are home with no other place to go. Our young adult son got laid off from work. Our college freshman and high school sophomore are finishing off the semester online. During this time of social distancing, fear, and uncertainty, the people in this house rely on each other for company. And hugs. Although everyone here is old enough to fend for themselves for the other two meals and sometimes prefer to hang out in their rooms alone, dinnertime is locked in. It’s less about the dinner and more about the time. Whether they’ve already had a bowl of cereal and are not hungry, or they’re hankering for my husband’s new favorite culinary therapy–banana bread–everyone’s called to the table. They know it’s important, and they know it doesn’t matter if they’re hungry or not. Time together is the nourishment.
Even though my husband is a high school science teacher doing facilitated distance learning from our dining room table, and on weeknights his spot looks like command central, we still sit together. Sometimes we take a break from staring at the back of his makeshift classroom and eat in the living room in front of the flat screen tv. We’ve decided a little tv is ok, but we are adamant about not talking about the news but instead trying to keep the mood light. It doesn’t matter so much where the meal happens or what’s on the menu. Now more than ever, dinnertime is not about the food.
Amy Nicholson writes from Connecticut.© 2002 - 2020, AnswersForMe.org. All rights reserved. Click here for content usage information.