My husband and I spent Easter at a friend's house--along with her husband, 11-year old daughter, and her parents who are now 87 and 92 years old. I have known this woman and her parents all my life, but this is the first holiday that we have spent together.
We had a wonderful dinner of ham, roast potatoes and asparagus, hot rolls and salad, and strawberry shortcake from scratch--not the little cakes you buy at the store. The whipped cream was fresh too, not from a can. It was a mouth-watering meal prepared with much love and care.
But the most memorable part of the day was a game that we played after dinner. It was called "Life Stories". It is a board game where cards are drawn that require you to share stories from your life.
As the game progressed, we learned more about each other than we had ever known...our childhood dreams, disappointments, heartaches, losses, embarrassing moments, and missed opportunities. We shared our first date, first love, who we most admired, what we would do if we had all the money in the world, our regrets, and our favorite teacher. During the four hours that we played this game, we laughed, cried, and marveled at how little we had really known about each other.
As each person reached the end of the game, getting their game piece into the circle in the center of the board, the instructions were for each player to share what they most appreciated or admired about that person. Tears glistened in the eyes of each person as they were told of examples of how their lives had been a blessing to others, the large and small things they had done that made a difference, and how important their presence was in that person's life. Everyone received accolades and acknowledgment for who they were and what they had contributed to the lives of us all. It was a powerful and touching experience.
My friend's husband admitted that he was sorry that it had taken a game to get him to tell his wife what he should have been telling her all along--how much he appreciated her. We all acknowledged that this was something that we, too, were guilty of.
Having lived over 50 years now, I have experienced many holiday dinners. But this was one that I will always remember. Yes, good food is always present at these get-togethers for family and friends and it is important. But even more important is the "soul food"--the love and personal sharing that we have the opportunity to experience if we reach out and really talk to one another on these occasions. Our stomachs can easily get satiated and stuffed at family dinners, but the soul food, which fills our heart, is something that we never seem to get enough of.