Family and Food Fills the Heart

Although this was not my idea of a first blog post, I could not stop myself from writing it. This week has been quite eventful, for the lack of a better word. It all began Sunday evening and left me experiencing all the feels, all week long. I was listening to Jeff and Alyssa Bethke’s podcast “Anything & Everything”  yesterday, and Jeff spoke about the sacredness and intimacy of the table and its relevance to today’s family. I was also inspired by the awesome blog, “Sitting At My Table”, created by a sweet friend. Here is my personal anecdote about my #AhaMoment that happened at two literal tables, around two different groups. 


I had been up since 7 a.m. for church and for a baseball game, running on only coffee and a bagel. I was definitely ready for lots of delicious BBQ when I arrived at my cousins Felipe and Yolanda’s house for Felipe’s birthday. They are the most hospitable and loving relatives I have-parties and games beckon people to gather at their house! I sat down at the table on the backyard patio alongside my dad, Yolanda, her daughter Ashley, my cousin-in-law Dianna and her sister Lilly. I was enjoying some salad when I overheard my dad mention that my grandparents and cousin would move into our three-bedroom, two-bath house this week.

As I sat on the bench, taking bites of my pineapple upside down cake, I began processing the forthcoming changes to my house and the things I didn’t like about living at home currently. One very obvious one: never eating a meal together.

Growing up, I spent a lot of time alone, until my brother was born in 2005. I was ecstatic when my parents finally had another child that I could share life with! Ten years later, we rarely spend “quality” time with each other because my parents work too much and I am a busy college student. This affects my brother the most. Even if my parents were both off of work that night and I was home early, we would not always make it a priority to sit down for a home-cooked dinner. After reading a few articles yesterday about the correlation between time spent around the table for a meal and a child’s behavior, I was truly concerned.

Will my grandparents’ cook our meals from now? Will all six or seven of us sit at the table together for meals? How does their idea of family communication differ from my own parents? My hope is yes and it will create a positive living environment, at least temporarily.

Not everything this week has been this difficult to process, however. My experience with my DOG DAYS team, whom I have only spent approximately 30 hours with this week, has been amazing. In this short time, we learned about academic advising for new students, toured student apartments, and completed team building activities and diversity training. We are slowly but surely transforming from co-workers to teammates to family.

Each meal we have shared together as a family has been special, whether it was talking about the food itself, our majors and jobs, favorite music or TV shows, or stories from the dentist. I’ve included a picture from our Friday evening activity at Gazebo Gardens (although not all OL’s are present). Although the food from TakoBBQ and Jay’s Specialty Ice Cream was great, the company was the most filling.

These individuals, especially the returning OL’s provide context to the phrase ‘family isn’t always blood.’ They are cool, intelligent, helpful, welcoming, but also honest and transparent about being imperfect humans. All are markers of true leaders. Being around the table with this new family has given me hope for my situation at home, that things do not have to be perfect to be amazing, but you can devote more time to eat good food together.

Around the table: Emily, Rachel, Michael, Ken, Kane, Lauren, Kaile, Kayleigh, Erika (me), Gilbert, Austin and Chris.
From left to right, across the table: Emily, Rachel, Michael, Ken, Kane, Lauren, Kaile, Kayleigh, Erika (me), Gilbert, Leslie, and Austin. Out of the frame: Chris. (Photo courtesy of Ken Ternate) 

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Stay connected with me as this sizzling summer progresses! 

Twitter: @errikadenise55 

Instagram: @errikadenise 


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