I grew up in a very big family.
My dad had five siblings, and when it was the weekend or holidays, the relatives would come over for coffee and sit around the table, cup in hand, and chat.
Sometimes there would be discussion of the weather, politics, or family matters. The kids would sit quietly with our tea or juice or hot chocolate and chime in occasionally. It was so special to be included in the discussions. Even if there was just a minor comment, the connection with the spirit of family and community was alive and well.
But something happened in the last 15 years. The shift and struggle to meet at the coffee shop or out for breakfast became real. The in-home coffee hour seemed to become a thing of the past as people got busier and no one had time to sit and chat. That’s been my experience. Busy lives became busier. I wanted the connection and the community to continue, so I created it myself.
My children and I have always made it a point to connect with our neighbors. Showing my kids the the art of inviting the neighbors over for tea or coffee is important to me. We have new neighbors who moved in, and I invited them over to share in my family, my space, and my world. They have children, and I wanted to share an openness and connection with them all.
The kids and I set the table. We got out the cups and plates. We used the cute, little milk pitcher, the sugar bowl, and the special, little spoons for stirring. My youngest daughter made banana bread, and I made cookies. My oldest daughter suggested a treat from the store.
As our new neighbors arrived, introductions were had. We gathered around the table with cups in hand, treats on our plates, and sat for almost three hours enjoying listening to the history of our families, current events, sports, and community. Their three-year-old daughter threw a tea party for the stuffed bunny, two baby dolls, and a teddy bear. Each one received a tiny polka-dotted cup and saucer filled with water “tea.” Creating community starts early in our family, even if it is with stuffed animals.
As our chatting came to a close, we felt a connection, a meeting of hearts and minds, that will bring each of us to a calmer, more centered spot in our world. My kids learned that sitting down and inviting and creating community can make our worlds smaller and wider at the same time. Everyone got to talk and speak and be part of the community and was listened to and heard. Adults asked questions of the kids. Kids got to ask questions to the adults, and the harmony was palpable.
We will invite the neighbors again. We will set the table and create a connection again. Our world will be connected by tiny threads of togetherness woven tightly and linked stitch-by-stitch as we grow our community.
Author: Erica Hodgson
Image: publicdomainpictures.net/Gustavo Di Nucci
Editor: Travis May
Copy & Social Editor: Lieselle Davidson