A few years ago, our family decided to have our Easter lunch at my Mama’s house, just like we used to do when we were growing up. Church commitments had kept my siblings, cousins, and me at our respective houses for several years in a row, but that year we determined that instead of trying to convince my Mama why she shouldn’t go to any trouble for all of us, we’d just shut our collective mouths and show up.
And oh were we ever glad we did.
As she has done all my life, Mama prepared a wonderful meal for us. Maybe it was because we’d just celebrated her eightieth birthday, but I found myself eyeing her like I was watching a movie, doing my best to take in her mannerisms as she carefully stirred the contents of every pot, as she steadied herself on the countertop to move from one side of the kitchen to the other, and make sure there was plenty of ice in the freezer.
And then, after everyone had fixed their plates and settled in to the meal, I looked at the children around Mama’s kitchen table. As I took in all those sweet faces, and sometimes mischievous smiles, it occurred to me that my generation has a huge responsibility. If we want the phrase legacy of faith to mean anything at all to those kids, who were loading up on rolls and avoiding their vegetables, then we have to share our stories with them — just like the generation before did with us. We have to write those stories down, we have to say them out loud, we have to put away our phones and close our computers and linger at the table long after the meal is over. We have to make much of what God has done in our lives and what He continues to do.
After all, why in the world would we keep our firsthand experience with His faithfulness, His grace, His kindness, His mercy, and His joy to ourselves?
After lunch was over, my cousin Paige and I served ice cream to the kids. As we scooped it out for the young’uns, my brother started talking about how different things were when we were younger. He and my cousin, Benji, were laugh- ing about some of their childhood mischief in Mamaw and Papaw’s pasture — tales that always seem to involve a horse, a truck, or both — and then he turned their attention to the kids.
In the span of about five minutes, Brother had shared an epic tale about a garbage collector, some firecrackers, and some country dogs. When he got to the end of the story, which had a whole lot of dramatic pauses, sound effects, and KAPOWs, the children collapsed into a fit of giggles. The grownups did, too. And at that point, we were off to the story races.
Later that afternoon, as we sat on the deck and shared more stories and soaked up the sunshine, it dawned on me that it won’t be long before my son’s generation literally and figuratively sits where my generation sits right now—with their children and nieces and nephews on the other side of the table. It’s sweet to think about that.
And it’s sobering.
After the dishes from Easter lunch were clean and the children were worn out, it was time for my little family to head back home. The sun was just starting to fall behind the treetops, and since we were hoping to be back at our house before dark, we hugged necks and kissed cheeks and said good-bye to our people. Mama and Daddy walked to the car with us, and after Mama and Alex, my son, hugged about four more times through his rolled-down window, we backed out of the driveway. We were almost to the end of the street when I looked in my rearview mirror.
And I’ll have you know that my Mama was still waving. As we turned onto the road that leads to the highway, I thought about the day and the people and the stories. I thought about how many times I’ve sat around some family member’s table and listened to the latest news, the latest drama, the latest funny tale. I thought about Mama and the hundreds of meals she’s planned and cooked just because “the children are gonna be home.”
And I thought about how, through every stage of my life, my parents, siblings, in-laws, aunts, uncles, and cousins have taught me that family life isn’t always easy, and complications are inevitable, and whether you like it or not, sometimes you’re going to get your feelings hurt. Sometimes you may even be the one who does the hurting. But you stay with it, and you love each other, and you forgive each other, and you keep coming back to the table.
No matter what. You keep coming back to the table. Easter lunch at Mama’s reminded us of that.
And we’ll never forget the lesson.
Sophie Hudson began her blog, BooMama.net, in 2005, which means she’s now been blogging for three times as long as the mid-90s stirrup pants craze. She is also a contributor to the Pioneer Woman’s blog, serves as co-emcee of LifeWay’s dotMOM event, and the author of Home is Where My People Are and Little Salty to Cut the Sweet. She lives with her husband and son in Birmingham, Ala.
This article originally appeared in HomeLife Magazine.