Dining Tables: More than Just for Dining
When you think of dining tables, you probably think mealtime. Of course, eating around the dining table is one of the main things you do around this central piece of furniture, but there’s so much that takes place when people are gathered with family around the dining table.
Whether it is only used on holidays or special occasions for the big family gatherings, or it is used every day for family mealtime, dining tables are where meals and memories are shared. Quality conversations happen around the dining table, and enjoying dinner together is a great time for the family to unplug, slow down, and spend time face-to-face.
The family dining table is often the place in the home where family connects the most. There’s just something special about sitting around a table and looking into the eyes of the people who you love the most while enjoying good food.
Family members can share their victories and struggles in a safe environment where they are loved and valued. They can encourage and strengthen one another with love and words just as the food is strengthening their bodies.
And speaking of food, it’s not what you eat that matters. It can be an old-fashioned, home-cooked meal or take out; it can be leftovers or pizza and breadsticks! What matters most is that you’re interacting and conversing with the most important people in your world and spending time with them on a regular basis.
This world seems to fly at lightning speed with family members often going in different directions at different times. From school and work obligations to extracurricular activities and hobbies, time can seem to slip away before you know it. It’s almost like you have to intentionally fight being pulled apart.
This is all the more reason to protect and prioritize your family’s time around the dining table. Whether you have children or you’re empty nesters, taking time to unplug, slow down and connect with each other is the foundation for strong relationships. (Would the word “sacred” be too strong a word to use to describe the importance of this time? I don’t think so.)
Some families, especially ones with younger children, find it easier to connect regularly around the dining table because they usually have fewer obligations and activities. The older children get, the more difficult it is to connect daily not just around the dining table but anywhere.
Yet daily connections create stronger connections, and this creates stronger families. If you want to have strong connections with your family members when they’re older, then today is the time to invest in those relationships. There will be a price to pay, but it’s worth it. It may mean turning off the television so the family can eat dinner around the dining table and share about their day. It may mean saying “no” to extra activities or to having friends over so that you can enjoy time connecting just as a family. But like I said, it’s worth it to have the laughter, love and conversations that result.
Progress, not Perfection
If you don’t have dinner every, single night as a family, don’t feel badly. Few American families do. Shoot for something realistic like 3-4 nights out of the week.
If you can’t share a meal together, maybe you can gather around the table for a card or board game. Or maybe everyone sits around the dining table for a bedtime snack together so you can connect just before going to sleep. Maybe gather the kids or grandkids around the dining table to work on crafts or art projects. What matters is that you’re spending time together, apart from technology, apart from distractions, apart from work.
Entertaining Around the Dining Table
Dining tables aren’t just for family time; it’s for “friend time” too. The dining table is the perfect location to connect with friends, neighbors and coworkers.
The dining table is a great place to enjoy a meal with neighbors on the weekend or church friends on a Sunday afternoon. Everyone can bring a dish to pass or you can order out for pizza. Break out the cards or game board. No matter what you eat or drink or do, the connections, conversations and laughter will create a lifetime of fond memories.
And don’t forget the birthday parties, the holiday parties and other celebrations that often center around the dining table. It’s here in this space that songs are sung, candles are blown out, cake and ice cream are served, and love surrounds it all. It’s here, around the dining table, where lives are celebrated, wishes are made, laughter erupts and smiles light up the room.
Life Around the Dining Table
Any way you slice it (pun intended), life happens around the dining table. Life with family. Life with friends. Life with the ones who matter most. It’s where prayers are said, jokes are told and delicious meals are enjoyed with the most important people in our lives. It’s where we look each other in the eyes and tell stories and share about the ups and downs of our day. It’s where we learn new games, how to take turns and how to win (or lose) gracefully. It’s where we create school projects and where we carve pumpkins. It’s where we give and receive love, encouragement and support. Dining tables are all about nourishment – but not just of our bodies – of our souls and hearts as well.
A lot of living happens around the dining table, but it’s not so much about the food or activities around the table as it is about the memories and connections that are made there. So make this time sacred (there … I used the word!). And keep it sacred. There’s no way that you’ll regret keeping this time special and set apart for you and your loved ones because your intimate relationships will be enjoyed for years to come.