In decades past, large Sunday suppers with relatives were widespread traditions. Grandma in her apron, checking on the food; the kids playing with their cousins in the yard; uncles gathered around visiting until the savory feast was on the table.
While times have changed, there's still value in family gatherings. Kids benefit from the love shown and the bonds forged with relatives. In today's fast-paced, often disconnected society, perhaps it's more crucial than ever to model family togetherness for your kids.
If you are fortunate enough to have extended family living nearby, why not resurrect the often-overlooked tradition of a family meal? To start, consider your heritage. Prepare family recipes of the past and present, and let the children help. Your children may grow to appreciate your family's traditional dishes and the time you spend together. Or if you choose to have each of your family members bring a dish, request that they bring along the recipe. Compile these recipes and make them available to all your guests by posting them to your blog, forwarding them through e-mail or compiling a booklet.
Extended family suppers could also give children the opportunity to honor and serve their elders. If you want to start new traditions, let the younger generation plan, execute (with help) and serve a meal for the rest of the clan. If they get stuck coming up with the menu, make it a theme night — Mexican fiesta, Italian buffet, '50s diner, and so on.
Coming together with your extended family for a meal can also provide opportunities to share God's love with those relatives who may not know Him. With some relatives, you will have the pleasure of saying grace, thanking the Father not only for the food but also for the multigenerational connections. With others, you can show them God's love through your sensitivity and service to them during these meals. By regularly gathering with extended family for Sunday suppers, you are creating an occasion for bonding, helping your children learn more about their heritage and giving your kids opportunities for getting to know their family.