A few years ago, my in-laws gave us a set of gor­geous and out­ra­geous­ly expen­sive crys­tal wine glass­es. You could hold one up to the light and if you turned it just so, cre­ate a show­er of kalei­do­scop­ic rain­bows over the table. When I drank wine from them I could imag­ine my Bota Box red blend was trans­formed into a Château Lafitte-Rothschild.

But the more we used them, the more I wor­ried they would be bro­ken. I found myself edgy dur­ing din­ner par­ties, watch­ing that each glass was being set down gen­tly and not too close to the table edge. I cleared the dish­es myself and then hand-washed each glass while my guests were still sit­ting around the table enjoy­ing oth­ers’ company.

And then, inevitably, I broke one. I leaned across the table too quick­ly, my elbow knock­ing the del­i­cate gob­let to the floor in a deaf­en­ing crash, wine spray­ing across the room as if I had mur­dered my guests. My hand flew to my mouth, tears welled in my eyes. Before I could speak, David said, “Thank God. I hat­ed those damn glass­es. My par­ents meant well, but they are so not us. Can we go back to the jel­ly jars now?” As he spoke, my friends start­ed sweep­ing up bro­ken glass, unsur­prised and unper­turbed to be cov­ered in wine. David poured me a new glass of wine in a jel­ly jar and we all went out­side to watch the sunset.

He’s right. We aren’t crys­tal gob­let peo­ple. We’re jel­ly jar peo­ple. It is about the gath­er­ing, not the pre­sen­ta­tion. Those glass­es sparked some crazed desire in me — as if every­thing looked per­fect meant it would actu­al­ly be per­fect. But per­fect isn’t com­fort­able or mean­ing­ful. Perfect isn’t my people.

When my peo­ple come over, they don’t knock. They just wan­der in and start lift­ing lids to smell things on the stove. They kiss me, hand­ing me a baby or a cov­ered dish so they can shed their coats, which they throw in a pile. Our dish­es rarely match and my cakes are often lop­sided. The wine most­ly comes from a box and David is prob­a­bly going to ask ear­ly arrivals to chop veg­eta­bles while he stirs some­thing aro­mat­ic on the stove. We always look slight­ly disheveled in the pho­tos, someone’s eyes invari­ably closed or a blur in the back­ground from chil­dren play­ing hide-and-seek. It won’t make for mar­velous pho­tos, but it always makes for mirac­u­lous mem­o­ries, that alchem­i­cal mag­ic of cel­e­bra­tion, food, and being with your tribe. The sounds of laugh­ter bub­bling over the music, of forks clink­ing on plates, the swoosh of the fridge door being opened and closed. No one wears shoes at my table. Someone will have to sit on the couch to eat and the dog will invari­ably wan­der in to beg for scraps.

Feeding each oth­er is a demon­stra­tion of love. Food sus­tains our phys­i­cal bod­ies, but eat­ing togeth­er nour­ish­es our souls. Life is deli­cious and I like to gob­ble it with my peo­ple beside me. The ones that know there will nev­er be a wall between us but always a table, filled with bread and sal­ad and soup and piz­za and tacos and what­ev­er cheese I can find in the back of the deli drawer.

I think about Jesus some­times and that last sup­per. How he knew it was the end, so he gath­ered his peo­ple around to par­take of a meal, which was both a sim­ple human urge and a sacred shar­ing of a his­toric moment. Italian arche­ol­o­gist Generoso Urciulo and Egyptologist Marta Berogno claim that the dis­ci­ples would have been sit­ting on cush­ions around a low table (not seat­ed on one side of a table, as depict­ed by Leonardo da Vinci). They believe that, in addi­tion to bread and wine, the menu prob­a­bly includ­ed beans, fish stew, bit­ter herbs, olives, and lamb meat.

I hope it got rau­cous. The dis­ci­ples cried, but they prob­a­bly laughed a lot too. When Jesus revealed that one of them would betray him, I bet punch­es and fish stew were thrown. Jesus was a jel­ly jar kind of dude, a sit around on cush­ions kind of guy, a man of the peo­ple more con­cerned with con­nec­tion than appear­ance. If I knew I would soon die, I too would throw a mas­sive din­ner par­ty and invite all my peo­ple, break bread and spill wine and slaugh­ter the lamb and hug and cry and laugh and raise a glass to the heav­ens and leave the dirty dish­es in the sink for the mor­row. You can keep your qui­et, polite din­ners where every­one uses the cor­rect fork. Give me a bro­ken glass affair anytime.

  • Erin Skinner Smith

    Erin Skinner Smith wants every­one to slow down, eat real food, move their bod­ies, go out­side, and hit the pil­low a lit­tle ear­li­er for a more pur­pose­ful exis­tence. She is a pub­lished writer, yoga teacher, and mind­ful­ness coach. When she’s not stand­ing on her head or typ­ing on her trusty lap­top, you’ll find her read­ing, play­ing gui­tar, enjoy­ing a glass of bour­bon, or snug­gling on the couch with her peo­ple and pets. Send her a dig­i­tal high five at erintheomplace.net.