I have a love/hate relationship with New Year’s Resolutions. I think they goal-setting is a valuable tool for making real and needed changes in our lives, but I also find the task can be paralyzing if the resolutions feel like too much a of a stretch. However, this year, after the wild ride that 2020 has been, I’m ready to start looking toward a new year, with new hope. After living in limbo this year, with uncertainty swirling around at every turn of the calendar page, I am aching to create some structure (and a sense of normalcy). So, this year I am setting a resolution, one that I’ve been quietly cultivating for a while now. Maybe you’d like to try this one, too.
I’ve been thinking about a quote I heard shared by one of my favorite authors, Shauna Niequist, a few years ago, encouraging the concept of starting each meal with a toast and a prayer. She says: “A toast is raising a glass and saying to each person, ‘I see you. You matter.’ The toast says we believe this is something worth celebrating. We believe this is a moment worth marking. And then a prayer says that we believe everything we have is from God – the food the time, the relationships.”
So as I’m looking towards a new year, my resolution is to give a toast and a prayer at as many meals as a can. To celebrate life and give thanks for it. To sit and savor time with the people who mean the most to me – my kids, my friends, my family. To celebrate big victories and small ones. And to acknowledge the gift that a meal is, and to say thanks with grateful hearts to the Lord for being such a great Giver.
So how do you put this practice in place in your life?
This means to actually pause in the middle of your busy days, in the middle of your busy weeks, in the middle of your busy life. At our house, this looks like eating together as a family as many nights as we can. Sometimes I cook and sometimes we get takeout, but the rhythm of pressing pause on all the “busy” even for just a few minutes makes a difference.
We also put down our phones during dinner. We really try to focus in on our kids and each other. We’re quick eaters so our meal only lasts about 20 minutes, and truthfully, we don’t miss our phones at all. We’re too busy catching up on what happened in preschool or first grade, and cajoling our two-year-old who only likes to eat bites in between climbing up and down from his seat at the table to miss the phones, and I think our kids really appreciate the face to face attention.
This is the “toast” part of the resolution. Each evening, someone gives a toast at dinner. It can be as simple as “To Mondays and red beans” or can be more elaborate, celebrating a victory in our family’s life – the loss of a first tooth, the success at learning something new, a work milestone, the completion of a project. The victory doesn’t have to be particularly significant. The act of acknowledging good things often magnifies, them, as I’ve discovered. And celebrating gifts or victories, large and small, reminds us that no matter the challenges we are facing, life really is good.
The prayer we regularly offer is the same one our boys’ preschool offers as they pray each day for lunch. They say, “God is great. God is good. Let us thank Him for our food. Amen.” My son then adds in a hearty “God bless the chef!” for good measure. Sometimes our daughter or my husband or I will add in a little something extra, something specific to the day or our family, but even just this simple act of stating that we are grateful for the provision of the food on our table, and the one who made the food, is enough to direct our hearts and minds to a place of peace and thanksgiving.