Spending the night at my friends’ homes was not much different from my own. If I went over before dinner we all would gather around the dinner table, some would say grace others would not, but meal time manners were expected and eating at the table guaranteed. I had no idea of the values instilled during those meal times until I became a military wife. My one way of holding onto a concept of family was to share meals with friends…friends who later would be considered my family. Still to this day I use cloth napkins, set my table for any and all meals we eat at home, and expect my friends to share the table time tradition with me. And secretly I think they love it, too. There’s a feeling of love every time I set the table for friends or family…it’s an invitation to share a part of something I love…my way of nurturing.
The reason I’m posting on this today is because I feel as though this tradition is suffering a rapid death. Rapid, because I’m only in my thirties, but rarely do I find fellow friends who follow the same methodology of setting the table, saying grace, and tuning into one another at the table. I agree, I’ve fallen victim to the technology madness and constantly wait for a message from a friend, but I’m trying hard to break it. One friend recently challenged everyone at a table that the first to answer their phone during meal time would owe the rest of the bunch drinks…not a bad idea. =)
Just yesterday I taught a culinary class to 30, 5-11 year olds, where only a scant number of them (perhaps 3) still actually sat at the dinner table to eat. Most mentioned that they eat in front of the television…which almost makes me laugh at how my parents would’ve reacted to our request of watching a television show during meal time. We weren’t even permitted to answer the telephone. And here I am thanking my parents for instilling these values in me.
What does the dinner table mean to you?
Is it a place to write bills? fold laundry? stack papers?
Or is it only gathered around during holidays or special occasions?
Do you insist on sitting as a family anymore?
Bring back the tradition...it truly is good for the family and for our well-being. Sitting down to a meal slows us down, forces us to focus on the food in front of us, not merely to be mindful of eating, but also to be thankful for the food in front of us. We also know that kids who sit with their families to eat are healthier! They eat more vegetables, less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, and more likely to be a healthier weight. Just from sitting down to the table.
And if you want to know the truth, I’m a bit of a stickler for a beautifully set dinner table. There are rules, you know? Here’s a picture to get you started:
The kids in my class had some great ideas as to why it was important to learn how to set the table, including “in case you are a waitress,” “if you ever get married,” “so you digest your food better.” haha, now, I can smile and agree with all of these!
Do you think you’ll try to make a habit of sitting down at the table?
I certainly hope so. Perhaps one day I’ll share a table with you…without my cell phone!
Cheers to sharing a meal with those you love and breaking bread as a family!
A family who feasts together, stay together!Just Wendy Jo