Done Call 911
women are depressed, they either eat or go shopping. Men
invade another country. It’s a whole different way of
I (Phil) have pictures on my fridge. Pictures of
friends and family and animals and one of my dad falling off a
chair laughing. There are magnets too. Imitation cabbages,
cauliflowers, bittermelons, and pumpkins—all fitting the
decor of the kitchen. The dieter’s favorite Bible verse is
there: “He must increase but I must decrease.” Here are a
few of my favorite fridge magnets:
* You’ll eat it. You’ll eat it and like it.
* Make yourself at home: Clean my kitchen.
* Coffee isn’t helping, get the jumper cables.
I (Martha) have signs in my kitchen, too. I have a
custom made sign that my kids got me for above my stove that
says, “Martha’s Burn Center.” Other original signs of
mine say, “Dinner’s Done! Call 911!” and
“Rolaids—They’re Not Just For Breakfast Anymore.”
don’t know about you, but we both love the kitchen. It is
the heart of the house, the pulse of a family. So much happens
in the kitchen. Botulism and putting out fires is only part of
First, the refrigerator is there. Need we say more?
Nothing brings a family together quite like a weekly game of
“Guess What It Was.” Whether it’s a cucumber that now
looks more like a Chia Pet, cheese that now weighs two pounds
more than it did when you bought it and is a lot hairier, or
the three-week-old pot roast that is now providing a sort of
neon lighting for you to see the rest of the food, playing
“Guess What It Was” is a fun and educational game that has
been bringing families together since the invention of the
there’s the stove. How many families have gathered around a
skillet engulfed in flames, trying to put out the fire before
the neighbors see the smoke and call the fire department
again? Nothing bonds a family quite like standing around a
roaring grease fire on a cold winter’s day.
the counter space too. When I (Phil) built our house, my wife
and I had a few extra feet of kitchen counter added so all
five of us could make sandwiches simultaneously. This saves
time in the morning and puts me close enough to sneak an extra
slice of turkey meat off my wife’s sandwich when she’s not
finally there’s the table. It may provide comfortable
seating, or the chairs may be crammed in so tightly, no one
can leave the dinner table early even if they were excused.
How many family discussions, announcements, debates, and
arguments (“He’s looking at me!” “Am not!” “Are
too!”), overeating, and even napping have taken place around
the dinner table? It’s the gathering place to beat all
Whether it’s breakfast, lunch, brunch, dinner, or a
Thanksgiving or Christmas feast, being together in the kitchen
is about as good as it gets. Few things can silence teenagers
more quickly than food. And few things can bring a family
together faster than a feast. And we haven’t even mentioned
all the fun food fights yet.
(Martha) have another sign on my fridge: “Home is Where The
Heartburn Is.” I was referring to my cooking when I wrote
that, but sadly there is a lot of heartburn going on in
families today because of stress. We’ve discovered that one
of the leading joy-killers is stress. Sadly our homes can be
the most stress-filled places on earth, as we dash to
appointments, grabbing half-made sandwiches or half-baked
muffins with scarcely a nod left over for each other. In the
midst of busy times, here are three items to place on your
menu, three suggestions to help you de-stress your kitchen and
bring back the joy.
There are five more items on my (Phil’s) fridge, more
precious than any fridge magnets. They are photos of our
adopted children, the children we sponsor with the wonderful
organization Compassion. Their names are Carlos, Joel, Dariani,
Habtamua, and Ndagirijwe.
Whenever we remember, we pray for them before meals. Each of
these five lives in a country where food is scarce. Praying
for those who are less fortunate helps us remember how much we
have to be grateful for and is a definite cure for complaints
about the leftover tuna salad.
of the best ways to keep your children or guests at the table
longer is to fill their mouths with things they can’t
And nothing works better than dessert. Time spent over dessert
or hot tea and coffee is invaluable in building relationships
and you can make it work for just about any age group. So
whenever possible, have dessert. Stop after six helpings.
the dishwasher. Few
inventions (besides the remote control) have pleased us more
than the dishwasher, but recently in the Callaway house,
something strange began to happen. Our water got weird on us.
The glasses came out murky at best, caked in white. We called
the experts who told us it was something to do with the water
treatment plant and they were working on it. In the meantime
we began washing dishes by hand. Our children hardly knew this
could be done. They stood around staring to think that such
activity was possible. But a strange thing began to happen. We
started talking while doing dishes. Actually communicating. Do
you remember what that used to be like? I taught my daughter
the fine art of snapping towels on her brothers’
hindquarters. I taught her how to run real fast down the hall
and lock the bathroom door behind her, before he could
retaliate. We hadn’t heard this much laughing and screaming
since the time my dad fell out of that chair laughing.
One of the surest ways to bring back the joy is to
center on building healthy relationships. And one of the
surest signs of a healthy family is the joy and peace and
noise and laughter found in the heart of the house: the
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