Words have always been my thing.
I love the variety, meanings, and sounds they make rolling off of my tongue. Recently, while stuck in a waiting room, I had a ball pinning juicy words on Pinterest.
A beautiful new word caught my attention. It forced a pause and soft smile.
A Spanish word that is the essence or ambiance my family cherishes after meals together. There is no word for the term in English. I instantly loved it.
In the past, gathering for a family meal used to be a regular occurrence for us. I’d ring the dinner bell and the gang would come running in from near and far.
The reclaimed wooden table was set with placemats that changed over time from the educational math facts ones, or the sign language skills ones, to oilcloth “fancy” ones with fruit painted upon them.
Our napkins always sat on the left, under the fork, with the knife facing the plate and a spoon on the right. Sometimes the food was beautifully displayed on the table. Other times it needed my little helpers in order to be finished. Regardless, we joined together to pray and to eat as a family every night.
Many times we were “hangry,” so hungry that we missed the present moment. Heads tucked down and food shoveled into our mouths so fast that the only sound was the occasional swallowing. If someone spoke, it was likely not fully heard.
The same happens today, yet at scattered times throughout the night. Practices, piano lessons, and daily dance classes pull my children in different directions. In fact, some of them are growing so fast that two dinners are not uncommon.
Regardless of my attempts for conversation, the silence fed my family’s voices. This one thing remained a constant…
Imagine heads lifting at the table after the food has been enjoyed, and eyes connecting with those around you. Chairs pushed back. Leftover bits of food now grabbed with fingers from each other’s plates. Ease enters the room. The rush of the day and the preparing of the meal have ended. Our nourished bodies relax. The moment releases any previous tension and creates a space for real conversation and laughter.
Anything goes at our house, from simply sharing about homework and weekly events to debating something controversial in the news. If music is playing, a random dance party with a brother twirling a sister has been known to occur. Sometimes a deep discussion arises regarding a serious subject in our lives.
No matter the topic or the activity, our family regularly enjoys Sobremesa. I never knew there was a word for it, but I am happy there is. Thanks to that day stuck in a waiting room, I may now share the spirit of it with others.
The next time your friends, family, or co-workers are gathered together for a meal practice Sobremesa.
Linger a little longer.
Allow space for whatever comes up.
Author: Kate Fleming
Image: Flickr/US Dept of Agriculture
Apprentice Editor: Yolette Baca/Editor: Travis May