By David Fikes, Executive Director, FMI Foundation
Things made to last take time; they require patience and perseverance. A fine piece of furniture must be tiresomely coated with countless thin layers of lacquer to stand the test of time and become a valuable antique. A piece of coal must withstand immense pressure for thousands of years to transform into the diamond that serves as our most poignant symbol of eternity. A mollusk must deposit a mixture of aragonite and calcite in very minute concentric layers for many years to produce a single rare and priceless pearl. Value and resiliency seldom happen overnight.
In a culture that treasures speed and immediate gratification selling something that requires discipline, persistence, and patience is not easy. We may recognize the value and benefit of such behaviors but committing ourselves to them each day is far more difficult. Family meals fall into that category of valuable things that require tenacity and long-standing commitment. The value of gathering around the dining table is not located in the single grand once-in-a-lifetime gesture but lies in the accumulative effect they have when lovingly executed over a lifetime.
A recent survey by Harris Poll found that 86% of the population consider it important for families to have as many family meals as possible each week. So, convincing folks of their value is not the issue, the challenge is in making it easier for them to happen; removing as many obstacles as possible, re-enforcing the discipline required, and applauding the perseverance. The lesson is simple, if we want our families to be valuable, resilient, and lasting, we must commit to the small gestures, such as frequently dining together, to establish the bonds that endure, and repeatedly nourishing our connections so they remain strong. And while we all seem to intuitively know the value of family meals, we also need to periodically be reminded of their long-term value because it is not always readily evident and can easily slip from our consciousness. They are more of a marathon than a sprint—we need encouragement along the way because the finish line lies well beyond our immediate field of vision.
FMI celebrates National Family Meals MonthTM in September and the Family Meals Movement throughout the year because we deem family meals crucial to the health of our nation. We appreciate the host of partners who join us in this conviction and who creatively help share the joy and the value of eating together. Go to this webpage to join the movement, and make sure you thank all our partners listed here who are part of the chorus encouraging everyone to stay strong with family meals. And while you’re there, check out the rest of our new website, it is a worthy playground of family meals ideas and resources.