Recently my husband and I have been taking the time to sit at our kitchen table to enjoy a meal together. Unless we have company over, which would include other family members (i.e. my daughter), we rarely allowed ourselves that luxury. Why? Too Busy? Eat at different times? Don’t have time?
When I was growing up, every evening was a time to sit down at the diner table, enjoy a meal that my mother, and in earlier years my grandmother, had made. It was during this time that everyone, adults and children, had time to discuss their day. What was going on in our daily lives was important and I remember the enjoyment of listening and sharing our family’s trials and tribulations. Sitting there as a child, listening to the stories of your parents and grandparents and even for a time great grandparent had an effect on me even today when I think about that Family Diner Table.
The food wasn’t always the best. Or as a child I wasn’t particularity fond of the food that my mother served. I was a very poor eater. However, through the years as I got older the food seemed to get better. But the food was not the most important thing or what I remember the most. It was the discussions, the tales of the day, learning from each other what was truly important (and that was family) to them.
And when we had company over for dinner, it was a true celebration. My father, who is a bit of an introvert (that’s him on the far end on the right with Mom next to him) became animated telling stories of his childhood, his days in College and High School and his days in the service in Germany. My mother, who is the extrovert of the two of them and could easily talk to anyone, would tell us stories of her Childhood, being born during a great depression in Germany and the world war that followed. And of course there were the stories of how she met my father. These dinners with company were so joyous even the guests would join in with their stories. It was at these times that I never wanted the time at the diner table to end.
We continued this family dinner time till I moved out of the house with a new husband and a few short years later a daughter. Schedules became rushed and my husband and I were hardly ever at home at the same time. I tried to make sure I sat with my daughter over diner each night, but more often than not this did not happen. Divorce and a move closer to my parents started up those family dinners once again.
From the time my daughter was in middle school through high school I once again enjoyed the Family Diner Table. My father would come down to my house to make sure my daughter got off the school bus and started her homework. My mother would follow him down a little later to start making dinner. When I came home from work the table would be set and my mother and I would finish cooking. And the kitchen table once again came to life with stories and our daily adventures.
Too soon this time ended again. My parents moved 10 hours away and my daughter moved away to College and never came back. I was alone and eating alone is never really that enjoyable.
Fast forward to today, I am once again married ( to the boy next door from my childhood – another story for another day) and still missing that Family Diner Table. I did recreate this for a brief time a few years ago when I was out of work. We would invite 3 other couples over once a month on a Sunday for a family Sunday Supper. What fun that was – and something I need to start up again. I love sharing food and stories with friends over a good meal.
I can really think of no reason why anyone can not make time, at least once a week, to sit down and have a meal with your loved ones, both family and friends. We should never be that busy or indifferent to take that time for our family and ourselves. My challenge to myself this year has been to sit and enjoy at least one breakfast and two dinners a week with my husband at our Family Diner Table (whether it’s a kitchen table or a dining room table).
The interesting thing is that I found a lot of articles on the benefits of sitting down, away from our chores, work or other busy things we do during the day, to enjoy a meal. Stay tuned for Part II of the “The Family Dinner Table”.