When my Navy-pilot husband, Dustin, left for a yearlong deployment in 2011, I decided that for each week he was gone, I and our three sons — Ford, 11, Owen, 9, and Lindell, 4 — would fill his seat at the table.
The plan was for 52 different people to come into our home and help us have at least one less lonely meal. What happened was unexpected: Some of these people became mentors to my kids. When Dustin came home in December 2012, more than 70 past dinner guests were waiting with us at the airport to greet him.
Not only had we creatively filled our time during my husband’s absence, but we had also built a new community. The experience taught us to let others in. Here are 10 people from all walks of life your family should invite to the table.
Photography by Andrea Hand
To learn more about Sarah and her family’s story, check out her new book, Dinner with the Smileys, available wherever books are sold!