Sugar or bitter pill?


“I love this family. Thank you for letting me be a part of it,” said a friend.

“It takes a lot of grace to maintain a family.”

Lynne comes for a visit a couple of times a year. Her favorite time is during the holidays. At our house, that is the time when we all come together. For our friend Lynne, that is the time for her to witness camaraderie, commando style. (When a small fighting force makes quick destructive raids against others.)

Whether someone is throwing a biscuit across the dinner table or bringing up someone’s latest life’s-most-embarrassing moment, mealtime is family time. Something you can relish, lest you avoid it all together.

After we bless the food, we pass around the dry humor followed by a mix of quick wit. The silver plated entrée? Honesty! There is always enough to serve two good helpings, with leftovers.

If you didn’t know better, you would swear there was nothing but a lot of noise on our menu. For Lynne, it’s “Mi Familia! Realness” in every sense: speaking out of turn, no nets and no filters.

Over the years, we have learned how far we can push each other, even when it is just in fun. But be forewarned, spectators are not allowed. If you have a seat at the table, you better bring an appetite. After the amuse-bouche, service begins.

We laugh about everything. There was the time when we were stranded while out of town because someone forgot to book the hotel room. Then there was the time my Sweet Al’s 83-year-old brother said he had to go shopping in Las Vegas, only to find out that he was on a date in Scottsdale.

For dessert, we served up a video call with my daughter and son-in-law in Southern California. And, then we laughed some more.

At one point, Lynne said she wanted to record our dinner conversations because she was so entertained. For this household, it was just another chance to appreciate one another.

Somewhere between the clanking of the dishes and the rattling of tongues, I am reminded that not all family gatherings are so sweet. We have certainly had to stomach our share of rotten apples and sour milk over the years. Who hasn’t? Maybe that is why we laugh so much today.

Our nightcap was served fireside, the perfect time and place for an afterglow. Lynne reminded me about the purity of truth. If used unmeasured, it can spoil the mix. If we are not mindful, conversations can be painful, like pouring salt in a wound.

In ancient Hebrew society, salt was discovered to be a seasoning, a preservative, even a disinfectant. Spending time with my family and friends has taught me how important it is not to disguise reality, but to let it enhances me.

What is more pleasant when breaking bread? Serving up a conversation that is flavorful, nonperishable and with healing properties. Or, stirring the hash, which produces nothing more than a tasteless bowl of mush.

Final brushstroke: Walking in grace after experiencing life is wisdom, at least David thought so. He wrote in Psalm 90:12, “Teach us to realize the brevity of life …” It is, after all, like sweetening your breath after digesting a bitter pill. You don’t have to do it, but it makes moments more palatable.

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