What's the fuss about getting a bite to eat?

By  Michele Faux, Catholic Register Special
  • November 2, 2007
bread.jpgIt was a First Communion Mass at my church and the communicants were invited by name to “come to the table of the Lord.” Before that calling, they had set the table, just as one would at home for a special occasion. Two children brought up the white linen altar cloth and pulled and tugged until it was even. A third placed a smaller cloth in the centre, close to the edge, much like a placemat.

Other children brought dishes and cups and candles. (although, little boys carrying lit candles always make me nervous!) The table was finally ready for the special occasion we celebrate at every Eucharist.

I wondered what the symbolism of the family meal meant to those children. People tell me there isn’t a sit-down supper in most homes these days. Individual family members microwave frozen pizzas or pick up fast food. An actual meal isn’t cooked and families don’t sit together to break bread, talk and bond.

My teacher brother was outraged when a student’s court appearance was followed by a parent-purchased lunch at McDonald’s on the drive back to school. I suggested that fast food might be a treat in my brother’s home but, in many others, it’s part of the daily routine.

Meals at my house are always special, not just for the company but also for the food. My husband has become a gourmet cook over the years and our children’s friends, as well as our own, are always happy to receive a dinner invitation. We’ve become a bit spoiled by the fancy cuisine so you can imagine the reaction of the “cook” when we travelled recently. After a wine-tasting session, I asked a winery employee to recommend a good restaurant. She asked if we had seen the Esso station as we ventured off the highway. She told us the restaurant was right there. Yes, past the gas station “You can’t get near the place on Mother’s Day,” she said. My husband couldn’t get past the location and we still don’t know what we missed.

People who sit down for dinner have certain foods that must accompany each meal. I remember my aunt criticizing a dinner to which she’d been invited. The food was satisfactory but there weren’t any extras like pickles and cheese. (In the future, I made sure to remember those when she ate with us.) My mother-in-law cooked half a dozen vegetables for every dinner but the meal wasn’t complete, in my father-in-law’s opinion, unless boiled potatoes were included.

Over dinner, one night, my husband’s best friend ominously said that he thought he’d known us long enough to ask a certain question. It turned out that all he wanted was bread and butter on the table.

To some people, a meal is all about the people with whom you share it. To others, the surroundings are most important (an an Esso station doesn’t cut the mustard).

A majority are much more fundamental in their needs. On a holiday with my in-laws, we were pouring through a book of restaurant menus, trying to choose where we would dine. My desperately hungry father-in-law placed himself with that majority when he stated: “I just can’t understand all this fuss about getting a bite to eat.”

(Faux, a teacher and mother of five, is a Contributing Editor to The Catholic Register.)

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