We sat around the table together, filling our plates with piles of angel hair pasta topped with homemade sauce. A basket of garlic bread made its way around the table, and we dished out salads with romaine, tomatoes, bell peppers, and carrots.
It was the beginning of my senior year of high school, and several friends and I decided it’d be fun to hang out on Monday nights to eat dinner and watch football. A few of us actually planned to watch the game, but mostly, we wanted to hang out. (Despite the early onset of senioritis, we did promise our parents we’d finish homework during commercial breaks.) I thought it was the perfect idea: dinner with my friends, study help afterwards, and a little football.
With my five older siblings out of the house by that point, my friends filled the empty chairs as if they’d sat there for the last 17 years. And we ate. Just my mom, dad, me, and a ragtag group of high school kids.
The family routine didn’t change much. Most people at that table weren’t actually family members, but especially on those evenings, they felt like family. We gathered around the table, prayed over the meal, ate, talked, laughed, and then finished the night off by spreading our homework out in front of the television. We interrupted the commentators’ play calling with questions about calculus (I had many and should never have taken that class), and halftime meant we scrambled to read a few pages for English class. Eventually everyone packed up and headed home, stomachs filled with good food and minds energized by friendship and conversation.
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