Several housewives, homemakers all, were huddled in the gym the other day, comparing notes—no, not on their figures, but on the state of their budgets.
Actually, the conversation had started with a not-so-hushed “Did you hear?” about rumors of people taking to the streets to protest their hunger. As the saying goes, “You can’t reason with an empty stomach.”
“The average breadwinner is having a hard time putting food on the table for his family,” said one lady. “It’s as simple as that. And those who didn’t have anything to start with, no longer hope that their lot can change.”
I have a feeling that street rhetoric has stopped resonating with the poorest of the poor. Promises of better times have, again, proven empty.
The ladies were actually mapping out plans for their own protest march. “Let’s get out there and show our faces. Maybe we won’t get the usual bashers on the internet who accuse protesters of getting paid.”
I talked to a friend who has taken bullhorns and streamers to the streets. He sounded tired when he said: “What can a handful of señoras do? Sure it has been done before. But do they really believe it will work? Won’t they perhaps make matters worse? Will they be credible witnesses? Our values are in the sewer. People have lost faith in our institutions. Trust needs to be restored. How do we do that while we cower in fear?”
And as the rumblings of seething discontent grow louder, I wonder if this crisis will blow over, or finally boil over and spill out onto the streets.
Then I remembered the ladies in their designer gym suits. They seemed extremely angry.
But when the music started, without missing a beat they resumed their jumps and lunges, and forgot to explain the “tipping point.”
The situation worries me. No, it scares me. It is like a hurricane that starts as a harmless tropical depression still thousands of miles away, but then picks up power and intensity as it approaches land and now threatens my safety. And there is nothing I know to do about it. Except perhaps hunker down, and pray.
I saw a sign the other day that captured my heart.
“A strong family has well-worn seats at the dinner table.”
Time was when the most important part of the day was when parents and children sat down to eat, together.
I remember as a little girl sitting with my parents and my sister at our round table in a small dining room right next to the kitchen.
During the war, we moved and lived with cousins, uncles and aunts in a bigger house. There was a long table in the comedor where we all gathered for breakfast, lunch and supper.
It was always a happy time; no matter that air raids would often intrude. Conversation was spontaneous. The grownups listened to our stories and answered our questions. No phone calls were made or taken. We ate what was served. There were no separate menus. Being together made us feel totally safe.
Not so simple
It is vastly different today. Life is complicated. Our lifestyles are hectic, frenzied. We look for places to escape. We bond with our devices.
We have become too busy for the old stuff. There are too many distractions. We work long hours. We blame the traffic. The stress!
There is a fast food store in every corner. It has become all too easy to just “grab a bite.” And let’s face it, we are spoiled. We would rather pay too much in a restaurant than go through the ordeal of planning a simple meal at home.
Has family time slipped out of our agenda? What has happened to our priorities?
It is at the table where we get an opportunity to know about one another. Is the baby walking yet? Where have you been? How is your project going? Sudden thought: Has it become annoying for a mom or dad to ask these questions?
Don’t laugh, but I still feel left out when one of my children (or grandchildren) leaves on a trip and I don’t know about it. My friends say it’s none of my business.
But I just need to know. I want to be a part of their lives, as each of them is a part of mine.
Tell me, has it all become old hat? Is it now an invasion of their privacy?
Our family gets together for lunch after church. The menu makes no difference. What matters is that we have quality time with one another. It is over a meal that we bond. We reconnect. It is where we can talk freely, no filters. We discuss life, laugh and maybe cry as we share our moments and our memories.
The other night my granddaughter and her eldest son surprised me in my casita. Lucas is five, going on 25. Like his mom, he loves to listen to stories about how it used to be “way back when.” We had dinner. I loved it.
That night I gave special thanks for their visit. My daughter was busy that night and I would have eaten alone. Which is really not the end of the world. I love my solitude.
But a meal with family is infinitely better.
One writer calls that small fragment of time spent at table with family the joy of her life.