There is something special about eating your food outside, whilst sitting on a rug on the ground.
Don’t ask me why, but it always feels like more of an occasion to have a picnic, rather than simply eating up at the table .
Perhaps it has something to do with the way time is stretched out, there is less of a rush to eat our food in a functional fashion, before moving quickly on to our next task. People often seem more relaxed and able to surrender to the leisure of a slow, continuous meal of many little foods, and so the freedom to linger around the rug, or keep returning for more food, more conversation, is what makes it so appealing.
For us, the ability to sit down as a family, outside and away from our home, still completely evades us.
Our middle two are both autistic with additional needs, and we rarely manage to have everyone sit up at the table, to eat altogether in one place as it is. These two beauties neither fully understand the need, nor have the capacity to respond to instructions such as “Stay up at the table”, “No they are your sister’s crisps”, or “Please don’t pick up everyone’s sandwiches, then sniff and lick them before replacing them – we want unmolested food!”.
We do keep trying though, and in a given week, we usually have a couple of mealtimes where everyone is up and eating together (food from their own plates), without someone running off, or heading over to express a urgent sensory need to wipe their greasy bacon hands on the sofa.
But those moments are not the norm.
Picnicking outside only worked for us, when we could still trap the middle two into the double buggy long enough to wolf down a couple of sandwiches. But now with a toddling 11 month old baby in the mix, as well as the other two being 7 and almost 6 – therefore far too big for the buggy – this is not an option.
A picnic out for us, would mean that we’d spend the entire time chasing them all in different directions.
However, garden or indoor picnics, where people are free to roam and return at their leisure, are much more doable.
This time of year, it is far too cold and wet to sit outside, but inside it is warm and toasty. As the Christmas decorations go up and a beautiful tree lives inside, we have that magical crossover of outdoor and indoor worlds.
So why not have a picnic around your Christmas tree?
Lay out a rug, if you fancy it put on some music, and with optional Christmas attire, sit together around the tree, with finger food and a few treats, enjoying the wonder of having a living thing inside your home, providing festive shelter and beauty.
You can do it for lunch or dinner, in the dark or the day time – but take advantage of the opportunity to do something unusual, and enjoy a few moments of connection.
You never know, maybe it’ll become a festive tradition.