Daniel Boone and the Golden Arches
It’s a little after 6 PM on a Monday night. I’m sitting in a McDonald’s by myself. This isn’t my favorite place in the world. The floor is slippery with grease. The tables have specks of burger bun and ketchup. I’ve settled in at the table I feel the most okay about.
Looking around, I see that McD’s is the last refuge of families who need a meal but didn’t have time to cook. The dads are wearing t-shirts and look tired from a day of work. The moms look about the same, although most of them are still dressed for the office, wearing black pants and blouses in a variety of colors.
Each adult accompanies at least two kids, and every one of those kids looks happy. They’re in their favorite place on the planet. McDonald’s, much as we might hate to admit it, brings families together.
Earlier today, my wife and I took a walk on the grounds of the Daniel Boone Home near Defiance, Missouri. A dozen or so historic buildings stand there, and today a few of them were open for viewing. The log cabins all sit on stacks of river rock, and many of them have just one room and a fireplace. The walls are rough-hewn timber. The open slats have been filled with concrete, a modern stand-in for the dried mud that used to keep out the cold and mosquitoes.
I imagine the families that lived in those simple homes were strong units, bound together by work and the fight for survival. I imagine they woke early each morning, building and hoeing and scrubbing and mending and cooking till sunset. I imagine they hunted for wild game together. That they shared hardship and grief, clinging to each other in the darkest of times.
And all these McDonald’s families seem to be searching for something that those frontier families seemed to come by so naturally: a deeper connection with the ones they love the most.
Maybe you feel the way I do: There’s never enough time with our kids, and the time we do spend with them is shallow, marred by flashes of anger and far too much “screen time”. Maybe when you see a log cabin you think, I wish I could go back to a simpler time, when it was a man and his family against the world.
Maybe we could all start with something as simple as a trip to McDonald’s on a Monday night. And maybe, if you’re like me, you’ll struggle to keep things civil and happy.
I think it would be worth it.