Toddlers, the Table, and Tacos
Not Just a Fancy Wedding Pastor in Paris
You might think that I am simply a fancy wedding pastor, living the dream life here, in Paris, but I am also a regular mom – doing regular mom things; trying to keep my small people alive, well-fed and well-loved. Upon entering my house, you will see that it is cozy and “lived in.” It is far from perfect, though we make an attempt at keeping our tiny space tidy. During the week, from morning until bedtime we are busy: school, work, sports… We don’t need to add in one more thing, and yet, this year, we have. We’ve added Toddlers, the Table, and Tacos to our our life!
The Sacred Taco Tuesday
Most Tuesdays we invite people for our very American “Taco Tuesday” fiesta! It is so un-French that is kind of comical. Yet, somehow it works. We encourage our friends not only to come, but to share their lives with us. Eating is, of course, a big part of that (it’s amazing how many tacos a small child can scarf down!), but it’s the “rest” of the evening that may be even more important. Together we prepare the table for each person, we wash, cook, and chop, we pray and we discuss our days. A lot happens around our chaotic Taco Tuesday Table.
Taco Tuesday Rituals
There is definitely ritual to our evening. The kids play together until the mommas call, “à table!” when everyone runs to their seat. We have assigned seats – no siblings are “forced” to sit next to one another, as to give a reprieve to the children and the mommas, but also to give the chance to hear about our friends’ lives. We share our family grace and then we dive in – to the tacos and into conversation.
Everyone gets to share the best and hardest parts of their day, and we take turns around the table to ensure that everyone has a chance to share if they desire. Good manners are a must. Having friends over doesn’t change that. “Please,” and “Merci” are a required part of this shared meal (we speak a fabulous “Franglais” at our table on most evenings, dancing back and forth between French and English, correcting grammar, words, and pronunciation as we go).
We eat tacos until our hearts are content and after all the children have “asked to be excused” and take their plates to the kitchen, they play together until the dreaded moment when it’s time to depart. As a “thank you” for coming to our house and sharing a meal with us, upon departure, I take down from the shelf my special crystal Hershey kiss candy dish, filled to the brim with imported, silver-foil-wrapped kisses. You may take one before you depart and we say “à bientot.”
Toddlers, the Table, and Tacos
Picturesque, isn’t it? But don’t be deceived, there is plenty of chaos too. We say “sit down” about a million and one times. Sometimes there is bickering, the occasional spilled glass of milk, and usually someone needs something and we have to go back and forth into the kitchen a few dozen times. Strangely, the more we do it, the more we practice this ritual, the easier it becomes. We have a system, the children know what to expect, the mommas get 10 minutes of adult conversation and everyone is amazingly content.
The Gift of Taco Tuesday
I’ve come to believe that there is abundance in the ritual and in the chaos of our Taco Tuesdays. The ritual is comforting and normal; we are one big family on Taco Tuesday. And like every family, a fair amount of chaos ensues when we are all together. We wouldn’t have it any other way. Everyone looks forward to Tuesday and our hearts and bellies are filled. The Wednesday Hump Day seems more manageable and we know that no matter what happens between the Hump and the Taco, we will come together again soon.
The Gift of the Life Together
More than that, I know that the table is where deep, messy and genuine fellowship happens. We aren’t just sharing tacos (though we love sharing tacos!), we are sharing life together. We share victories and disappointments, homework and songs. Manners are practiced and our speaking and listening skills honed. We toast to one another for no reason other than the fiesta that is a normal Tuesday of tacos in Paris. There are many more dishes, there is much more to manage, but there is also much more laughter and much more joy. There is a fiesta of abundant life together, every Taco Tuesday.
Rev. Wahila is an ordained pastor, wife and mother. Read her bio here.