without thinking about it much, i wipe down, clean, set up and clear off the kitchen table several times a day. our family meal table (aka, the kitchen table) gets quite the workout on a daily basis. i’d even go so far as to say that it is used more than anything else in our home (and with three young boys, our washing machine, dishwasher, and bathrooms get quite an amount of use, if you know what i mean!).
recently, we got a new kitchen table. it’s larger, and has two extra chairs! believe it or not, our family of five was crowding around a small circular table with four chairs since we moved into this house. we were outgrowing it, and tearing up the cushioned seats rather quickly. regardless of its small size, we spent our days and evenings around it.
we eat at our table, it’s part of our counter top (especially when the boys are involved in cooking or baking with me), i knead bread on it, we have school at this table, we do art on it, i make lists, and plan meals on it. and every night, we gather around it together for our family meal. it is certainly the one place where you’ll find us every day.
i read once that the place where your family gathers most in your home tells a lot about your family. think about where you would find yourselves most on any given day (especially those of us that are raising young children). when i read that, i immediately knew it was in our kitchen, at the table – a place where one would go to be nourished. so i began to take care of it more:
~ if it was stacked with books and magazines and mail at one point in the day, i’d clear it off so that we could sit down to eat our meals.
~ recently, on our busiest day of the week (tuesdays), i’d light candles, since we don’t get to eat our dinner until 7:30, due to classes at the Y and soccer practice. it’s dark, we’re all rushing in from rowan’s soccer practice hungry and thirsty. it’s a welcome sight to see dinner already made (i’m learning some crock pot recipes for days like this one!), and the low glow of the candles to usher us through the meal, into bedtime.
~along the same lines, i’m very protective of our meal times. i make it my full-time job to put good food on our plates, and we all sit down, every night together for dinner. no matter what our afternoon or evening looks like.
there are evenings when dinner isn’t so…graceful. i’d love your ideas on how you focus attention on good conversation. if kenny’s been in the office, he usually asks the boys how their days were. sometimes we ask what their favorite thing about the day was. i’ve seen families pass around a “question of the night” box which is full of conversation starters. i think that’s a great way to get your family talking, and keep them talking. we’re at the point in our boys’ lives where we’re constantly reminding them of table manners: “elbow off the table! don’t talk with your mouthful! too much food on your fork!” sometimes it seems like dinner is one long reprimand.
i’d love your ideas on how to keep dinner time a time of nourishment and enjoyment!
in the meantime…go to your family gathering place, and think of ways to continue to protect it as a place of nourishment of the mind, soul, and body for your family!