As a young girl growing up in rural Jamaica I have many fond memories of family nights. What is really interesting with this concept of family night is we never called it that. My siblings and I would gather on the verandah mostly weekend nights and the jokes, duppy stories ( ghost-Jamaicans say duppy, North Americans say ghost) would start. As well as stories of interest that happened around the community. We had a neighbour who was a single mom raising 2 daughters living next door to us. She would share with my mother how the sounds of our laughter and our voices would keep her and her daughters feeling safe at nights.
Imagine now, some 30 years or more later and I still gather with my sister, mother and brother- nowhere as often as we used to back in the old country and mostly on holidays. You see, we are spread out all over North America and the Caribbean now, but those of us who are geographically close still gather. I really appreciate the groundings those ‘good old days’ have given me.
A recent survey of what helps to keep children healthy, especially healthy body weights, pointed to the simple act of sitting at the dinner table and eating a meal together. Again, this is a memory that stands out for me, though we didn’t have a big formal dinner table set with fancy dinnerware, we would sit and eat together in the living room. Never did we stop to think of the power behind this simple act!
I find these early groundings of gathering as a family have heavily influenced how I set the stage for raising our sons. My hope is they too will grow to value the importance of gathering as a family. One way we gather in my family, in addition to eating our meals together ( now that we are all adults, we do this on Sundays) is by weekly family meetings. We’ve been ‘meeting’ weekly now for more than 18 years and plan on doing so for as long as we are together as a family. What’s your family gathering story? I would love to hear from you!
Phyllis Reid-Jarvis, Mph, RD, PCC