It’s family reunion time and I just spent the weekend with the Love Family Reunion here in the Kansas City area. Individuals came from as far as Arkansas, North Carolina, Chicago, Arizona and California to celebrate the coming together of the fourth, fifth, sixth and even seventh generations of the descendants of Felix and Lucinda Love. I don’t know the exact count, but there were over 100 individuals in attendance. The oldest was my father in law who is 93 and the youngest was a darling little girl with a huge bow that could not have been any older than 3 years old. We had a great time and the family is looking forward to celebrating again in another two years.
What I have found that most family reunions and family gatherings have in common is that most of the festivities center around food. If reunions begin on a Friday, there is usually a meet and greet of some sort involves the breaking of bread together. As family members arrive, the food spread is available to partake. Saturdays may involve a cookout during the daytime hours and/or a banquet later in the evening. Whenever I have the opportunity to attend my mother’s side of the family’s (Jordan/Briddell) family reunion in Maryland, North Carolina, or New Jersey I always look forward to fish fry’s or the crab feasts. I have learned so much about my family over the years, just sitting at those wonderful crab feasts.
Yes of course there is always eating going on at the family reunion, but there is also some prayer going on. Of course if there is a formal meal served, someone will offer a blessing for the food. Some families will honor those who are no longer with them with a pray, or a moment of silence or a candlelight ceremony. Prayers will also be offered for the family sages who are unable to attend because of ill health. We were missing a 101 year old Love at my husband’s reunion. Sunday will culminate the reunion with a Sunday service where all the family can worship together.
Both food and prayer are definitely in order whenever families get together. In my own family, when my sisters and I get together we will usually have all of our meals planned out for the entire weekend. My dad loves going to breakfast, and even though I prefer to sleep in on Saturday mornings, I convince my sister give Daddy a snack first thing in the morning so they can wait on me to be ready to eat between 10:00 and 10:30 am. Before we can finish eating our breakfast, someone has already asked the question as to what we are going to do for dinner. In some cases, we have already decided on who is going to cook what or whether we or going out for dinner before I even get on the highway to visit. No matter what we decide to do, we always have a word of prayer before we dig in.
Here are 4 benefits for families that eat together:
1. Provides an opportunity to fellowship with one another. No one likes to eat alone, meals are much more enjoyable when you can talk and bond with one another.
2. Family meals help individuals the feel a sense of belonging and identity. As we sat around the table eating at the reunion, I felt like I was part of something larger than myself. Children are able to experience the warmth and security of being part of a family.
3. Eating together fosters healthy child emotional development. Studies have shown that children who participate in sit down dinners with their families are better adjusted.
4. Eating meals together can also have health benefits. When individuals have sit down meals together, individuals may tend to eat more fruits and vegetables. Interestingly, whenever the fruits and vegetables are the only thing left on the table, we will tend to go ahead and nibble on the available fruits and veggies.
I really shouldn’t have to inform you of the benefits of praying together as a family, but here are the top 4 benefits for families to pray together.
1. Provides an opportunity for us to practice thankfulness and gratitude. We should always begin our prayers by thanking God for what he has already done. Gratitude promotes positive emotions and thoughts.
2. Binds families together. Praying together encourages a peaceful home. I have found it hard to be angry at someone if I am praying for them regularly. Even the most challenged of families including stepfamilies can live at peace when the family prays together.
3. Protects families from dangers, hazards, and risks that attempt to destroy the family unit. Praying together provides security and divine protection and reduces temptation amongst family members.
4. Praying together builds faith and character. When children experience their parents praying to God for direction, children learn to build their own relationships with God and learn to develop their own prayer life. When children know their family is praying for them, their confidence increases.
This summer as you gather together as a family, whether it is for a family reunion or just a Sunday dinner, remember that families who eat and pray together stay together. Happy summer!
Janice R Love, Author
First Lady, Mom, Stepmom and Divorce Ministry Coach