Today we are here, tomorrow we are there, and there's just no telling how much time we allow in between to truly be with other people, the people who matter to us. Gathering together at the end of the day, ideally, ought to give each and every individual a sense of sanctuary or respite. We gather together, and eat together to feel safe, refreshed, and loved. Not everybody has that, and lately a lot of us who do may slowly and unconsciously be taking each other for granted.
Pope Francis himself said this to a Catholic News agency two years ago in 2015: “A family that almost never eats together, or that never speaks at the table but looks at the television or the smartphone, is hardly a family. When children at the table are attached to the computer or the phone and don’t listen to each other, this is not a family, this is a pensioner!”
If you get the nagging bit from your mother sometimes about your mobile phone's presence at the dinner table listening to her might be more important than you think hence the Pope's quote. After all, people gathering together deserve each other's best attention. Here are six reasons why family meals at the very least on more than half the working days in a week actually matter, and if practiced by more families in the world can boost the chances of world peace:
1. Life is tough for everyone in some way, so coming together to "decompress" through communication is therapeutic. KC Concepcion and her family love dining and traveling together. Challenges are of a different caliber in a showbiz-slash-political family but dining is always a balm for fellowship.
KC's younger sister, Frankie Pangilinan, who is now 16, also loves to cook. On occasion, even a year or two ago, we have witnessed Frankie pull a chocolate souffle out of the oven and prepare and cook Korean beef baon for herself and friends before a field trip.
2. Gathering for meals is an act of celebrating small daily victories as well as big milestones over the years. Here we see Judy Ann Santos-Agoncillo celebrating her mother's 70th birthday with a boodle fight feast! There's nothing like a good spread of food over native banana leaves to get a celebration of a good life going.
There's a saying in Scripture that goes "Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn," from Romans 12:15. Whatever the reason may be that you are gathering together, the act of being there for each other is what matters.
3. Valuing and dedicating time for our elders who raised us even when we get older is a good example to set and also blessing them with what we've learned from them can also come at mealtime. Anne Curtis returns home to Australia whenever she's able to make time for her parents. Here she's also obviously learned a huge skill from her mother who is said to be the expert at making this dessert, Brazo de Mercedes, while her Dad served up his marmalade glazed ham. Anne shows off her own baking prowess here.
"She's home. And she's showing off her Brazo de Mercedes to the real expert of making em. gudjab @annecurtissmith"
- Jasmine Curtis Smith on Instagram last year
4. Having perhaps even just a decent chocolate drink together frequently, not always a feast, can boost endorphins and possibly encourage younger family members to avoid destructive lifestyles and just say "no" to drugs or other vices. Constant, freeflowing communication is the fruit of meeting and gathering, whether it's a full meal or just a simple, comfort drink together. Families that stay linked through good communication and affirmation often have children who grow into healthy, well-adjusted adults.
Take for example, the Heussaff siblings, who have a high respect for their bodies and lead such healthy active lifestyles. Their closeness is evident and their obvious support for one another gets them through the daily grind (their family still makes it a point to gather on Sundays for lunch and/or dinner no matter how busy everyone's schedules get!).
5. Actual studies show that children from families who have meals together have improved mental focus, better academic performance, and boosted social skills as they develop. It is quite obvious that Hayden Kho spends whatever extra time he has with his daughter Scarlet Snow and his partner, Dra. Vicki Belo. As a parent, he is very hands on and his budding new family has melted many hearts. We found it extremely sweet when he arranged a surprise Valentine's dinner for them.
"Psychologists studied children aged six to eleven and found they concentrated more at school, acquired better social skills and got into less trouble as teens if they regularly took part in family meals . But this needs to happen at least four times a week to have a major benefit" - dailymail.co.uk"
As researchers and doctors, both parents Hayden and Vicki are obviously aware that creating frequent experiences for Scarlet together with the family is a vital key to her happiness and success when she grows older.
6. Having a meal together is a representation of peace, unity, and welcome. The world is one big family and many things can be slowly solved with tolerance and hospitality. The pope himself once said, "When we’re at the table, when we are speaking to others on our telephones, it’s the start of war because there is no dialogue." He was also seen having lunch together with Syrian refugees in the past to encourage, speak to, and welcome them. They are, after all, also family just from another side of the globe.
Watch this TED Talk by Karen Hickson-Smith about the importance and positive effect of gathering together for a meal whether you are family or bound as colleagues or even just friends. Karen has worked with roughly over a hundred homeless teens through her advocacy "Life & Soul UK" and even welcomed them into her own home before they transition into new homes with new families.
ALSO READ: Dining Delight: Get To Know Homegrown RYU Ramen And Curry With Ogie And Leila Alcasid
Photographs from Instagram.com/itskcconcepcion, Instagram.com/officialjuday, Instagram.com/jascurtissmith, Instagram.com/erwanheussaff, Instagram.com/franciscus, and Instagram.com/scarletsnowbelo