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Reclaiming the Dinner Table

There is something iconic about the picture of family gathered around the Thanksgiving or Christmas table feast. We think of these moments around the table as a time of sweet fellowship and rich connection among family. No matter how flawed these hallmark card moments are in reality, we treasure them. These connection times become part of our stories and are the stuff of Legacy.

When I was a child and I would arrive at my grandma’s house for the holidays, there were things that I could count on.

We would be greeted at the door with cheerful hellos and hugs. We could instantly smell the turkey and all the fixings’, fresh garden vegetables, warm homemade applesauce, and pies cooling on the buffet table.

My grandma, mom and aunts would be happily bustling around the kitchen and that room was seasoned with love and laughter. The men would be carving the turkey and telling each other tales of recent conquest or debating heartily the deeper issues of life and theology. Meanwhile my grandpa was sitting in his arm chair at the head of the table, filling his pipe with minty tobacco and weaving colorful tales for us grandkids while awaiting the presentation of the impending feast. We children ran about the house giggling with joy in anticipation of an entire day with our cousins. Soon we would gather to pray, giving thanks and then we began eating… and eating… and more eating. After a whole day of food, football, and fellowship and before people gathered their things to depart, our family would gather around grandpa’s little organ and

sing. This pleased my grandpa and the sounds of voices harmonizing delighted my young ears. I didn’t want that day to end.

These holiday times around the table were, in hindsight, the stuff of legacy. Those days and specific conversations linger and stand out in hearts and minds for the years to come.

Grandpa’s garden had the rich soil where all the vegetables grew that we ate at our meal, but grandma’s house was the real soil where seeds were planted in our hearts. At the table we were watered, fed, and took root.

At Pine Valley, we are reclaiming the dinner table. We do that in the summer, we do it at Light of the City, we did it at the Story Harvest where many of you planted legacy moments in our kids’ hearts.

How can we ever expect kids to leave a legacy without creating for them intentional moments of connection and conversation as a foundation. We all desire to leave a legacy but no one drifts into legacy, you decide for it, we plan and prepare, baste and bake, and provide spaces for it. The dinner table should be a place for that intentional time.

Our new Legacy Dining Hall will become the living room, dining room, and kitchen of our camp life. It will be a hub for meaningful connection. We are increasingly more aware that many children have never experienced “the dinner table.”

Imagine holidays for kiddos who have no “dinner table.” A kitchen with no food cooking. A living room with no conversation, children with no laughter, or a home with no music. We have the privilege as families to provide daily what some kids don’t ever get on special occasions. This breaks my heart and also reminds me of the responsibility to fight for this in our own homes and in this place that kids call home.

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