It is easy to feel too busy, spread too thin, or that you aren’t the type of person who has people over. You might not be. I’m not the type. Yet a week doesn’t go by when our home isn’t filled with people. One particular season when we felt like we could not fit another thing on the calendar, I offhandedly mentioned to my husband, Jason, who asked if we could have a family over to dinner that evening, “Well, we have to eat …”
That has been the motto many a night since. We do have to eat. Every day and night we eat. Our children eat. Our friends eat. Now we eat together. Jason grew up with the glorious weekly taco night tradition, and his mother taught him to fry corn tortilla shells. We occasionally made them for friends and family, but most Tuesdays you could find us at one of our favorite Mexican restaurants letting someone else do the cooking. When we began to dream of what it would look like to fill our table each week, tacos seemed to be the only option even worth considering. If you think about it, they are the perfect food. Everyone loves tacos. They are fully customizable, gluten free, and basically bring happiness to one and all. I have a shelf in the pantry for taco staples, and everything else we need can be grabbed in a five-minute grocery trip. It’s not fancy, but it is easy, and the prep has become part of my muscle memory.
This taco ritual involves everyone. There is chopping, grabbing the arsenal of hot sauce choices, the filling of different ingredient combinations for each kid. All the while life is being lived. We find out how people met, what they dream about, and how they wandered into the school auditorium where our church meets. We laugh, we cry, we make a mess, we pile the dishes in the sink. It is by far my favorite night of the week. It is chaotic, often noisy, and it is the good stuff. Before we know it bedtime creeps up on us and we say our goodbyes—knowing that every taco shared that night is part of the story of our family’s life.
We joked that our family purpose statement would somehow involve tacos. Then that joke became reality.
The Carson family exists to: Love God. Serve others. Tacos.
And it isn’t even about the tacos. It just happens to be the vehicle that invites people through our door and around our table. We hope that they leave with full tummies and hearts that feel known, encouraged, and seen.
We have to eat, so we invite people to come eat with us. We talk, and I mean really talk. We dream, we ask questions, we learn. We engage in conversations that could never happen in passing, as we chase kids on the patio after church, at soccer games, at school pick-up, in the aisles of Target. Conversations that shape us and challenge us and encourage us. Conversations that are life-giving.
This season of gathering around the table, the couch, the kitchen island has been a sweet one. For someone who craves quiet, it has filled my heart and soul in a way that I never knew I needed. If left up to my own introvert ways, I would live in a cabin on the coast of Oregon. Alone. My family could visit me on weekends. That however is not how God intended us to live. He gives us each other and gently nudges us toward community. The raw and complicated and joyful work of letting people into your real life, hoping they will still like you. The beautiful thing about it is that this little community we have built has been an anchor to us. They pray for us, support us, make us laugh, let us cry, celebrate, mourn, and somehow still like us.
Find your thing. Whether it’s tacos, or burgers, or waffles, or take-out, or a gourmet meal, make it a part of the rhythm of your life. Seek people out. Include them around your table. Our breaking bread is more chips and guacamole, yet there is beauty and holiness in it.
So we will keep opening the door, letting people in, sharing our noisy, messy, beautiful life. It is everything, and I cannot imagine it any other way.