Part of the Cooking Up Community — How Food Fosters Togetherness Series
From the neighborhood picnic to the family dinner table, food has the undeniable power to bring people closer together. Focus on the Family asked several writers how the experience of preparing and enjoying food has been important to their family. Each person has a unique story to tell, but all evoke a sense of togetherness.
I rarely make a trip to the supermarket that doesn't involve buying a jar of pickles: spicy, garlic, dill or half-sour. My husband and our three boys love them. But I was reluctant to embrace the idea when my husband wanted to start canning his own pickles. It seemed like a lot of expense, effort and mess when I could so easily buy them. Still, I could tell he really wanted to try.
He researched what he needed and came in the next day with a tote full of supplies.
"Who wants to make pickles with Daddy?"
From separate corners of the house, three little boys came running. "I do, I do !"
Each of us was assigned a task. No one seemed to mind that they were elbow-deep in pickle juice. Together we learned about the process of pickling and canning, but more importantly, we learned about one another. We laughed and made up corny pickle jokes. The fruits of our labor didn't just come from a jar that day.
This fun activity has now become a cherished family tradition. Even though it's messy, when Daddy says, "Who wants to make pickles?" we all come running.
An Impromptu Barbecue
A few years ago, our family moved to one of the most dangerous zip codes in Indianapolis. After all of our belongings were moved in, we decided to have an impromptu cookout to celebrate our new home. Scents of chicken and charcoal wafted from our porch while a few artistic friends added to the ambiance by playing music and reading poetry. Passersby paused in front of our fence as I played my violin.
We offered plates of food to those going by, and before long, we had a party on our hands. Neighbors jumped in with freestyle rap, singing and poetry, while others marveled at the violin, having never seen one in person. In that moment, we knew we were in this community to bring a dose of Christ's love.
My husband and I discovered the joy of cooking healthy and delicious meals while we lived abroad. Our journey to China allowed us to see how food brings people together, since cooking large meals is typical in Chinese culture.
Cooking allows my husband and me to spend more time together, laughing and joking about each other’s art of cooking. Instead of watching a movie, we enjoy preparing elaborate dinners and occasionally invite family members over. I have learned so much more about my husband, whose personality is the polar opposite of mine, through actively engaging in conversation while cooking. We plan each meal carefully and, even after a long day of work, he comes home and helps with the entire meal.
The best part is that we often share our recipe ideas with friends and family, and now they are also opting to spend more time in the kitchen with their loved ones to prepare healthy and delicious meals.
French Lunch Friday
As I pulled into the grocery store parking lot, I was overwhelmed. The kids were arguing, and everyone was stressed out. But I sensed God whispering, Do something special. I grabbed a loaf of French bread from a display near the deli. Then I selected some Brie and fig preserves, more cheeses and sparkling apple juice.
Once home, I set the table with our finest china, lit a candle and arranged our lunch on a large wooden cutting board. The entire mood shifted as my children stared in wonder. We tore the bread, savoring the morsels of cheese and the sweet cherries. The stresses of the day faded.
We now enjoy French Lunch Friday once a month. We relish each bite while telling stories or laughing over shared memories. Inevitably, our conversation goes deeper (even with young children), focusing on God's goodness and the myriad ways He's blessed us. This sacred bubble — the time we put aside as a retreat for ourselves — has helped create a sense of peace in our family.
Did you know couples are 30 percent less likely to get a divorce if they get some sort of premarital training? If you or someone you know is planning to marry, check out Focus on the Family's Ready to Wed curriculum, and then prepare for a marriage you'll love!