Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The family table

When I was growing up, our family always ate together at dinner. My mom and dad both worked, but my mom made it a point to always have dinner together. It was a time when we would catch up with each other. My sister and I were both very busy with sports and friends after school, so the table was sometimes the only time we could connect as a family. We ate fast food once in awhile, and went out to a restaurant about once a month. It was a special treat, not something that was done very often. We had an ultra small kitchen growing up, with a table that was pushed against the wall to make room when we weren't eating. When it was dinnertime, we would pull the table out and cram in. It was tight, but I have many memories of sitting down with my family and having meals and connecting with each other. I remember many wonderful meals, and lots of laughter. We live in such a different time now, and family dinner tables are becoming a lost art. Everything is so fast paced, and families seem to be connecting less and less with each other. It is interesting that we have all this technology to help speed things up for us, and yet it seems like we are busier than ever and have even less time. A lot of times families end up coming home and crashing on the couch and eating dinner in front of the TV. Everyone is too tired to talk.

Up until recently, I was doing exactly what I just wrote about. Our family was spending less and less time at the dinner table together. I would be tired from homeschooling and taking care of Evie, and Jeff would be tired from work, so I would make dinner and we would plop on the couch and eat in front of the TV. We would barely say a word to each other, and we would mindlessly watch TV. I started feeling really convicted that I was setting up such bad habits in my home. I hated eating in front of the TV. It is not something I wanted in my home at all, and yet I kept doing it. I realized I was being just plain lazy. I really realized what a mistake I was making in this bad habit when Evie announced to me that she hated eating at the dinner table, and that she loved eating in front of the TV. Yikes. I was responsible for that! Talk about conviction! I didn't want her growing up missing out on fellowship time at the dinner table. I wanted to make wonderful memories like I had eating with my family. I believe God intended us to sit around the dinner table together and connect. The Bible has many stories that center around the table and sharing a meal together, especially in the Gospels. Jesus had many times of fellowship that centered around sharing a meal. Since seeing the huge error of my ways, I have been dressing up my table more and making it look inviting. I have been lighting candles and putting on music each time we eat. We have been regularly eating at the table for dinner, and have started having some lively conversations. Evie is still asking for "movie night", but isn't complaining so much. Hopefully she will come to the point, like I did growing up, where she thoroughly enjoys sitting together for dinner at the table. I guess I am old fashioned in my thinking, but I think that people are missing out on something very special when they eliminate the family dinner table!


Daisy said...

You're not old fashioned at all. I teasure the time around the table, it's a time when everyone is relaxed, we are all together, everyone gets to tell about their day ... you find out a lot around the table. I will not let the t.v. come upstairs for many reasons, that being one of them. I can see how easy t.v. dinners could happen around here too! All computers and toys must be off when we are eating together and there are no magazines, books or newspapers allowed at the table while we eat either. All that can wait until afterwards. It's such a small bit of time that we can give up just for each other. I really enjoy lighting candles and putting on table cloths just for this short yet special time.
There are many times when my dh has to work really late, and then it's just the 3 of us ... but even then it's a time for conversation and eating and nothing else.

What a great post Jen!

SchnauzerMom said...

We used to eat at the dinner table when I was a child but DH and I eat in front of the TV these days. The dinner table has too much junk on it. It's a nice idea though.

Jules said...

Well, I've been thinking along these lines too. We used to always eat at the table but in winter our dining room is so cold, that we just got into the habit if eating in front of the T.V. Now when I set the table everyone complains or asks me who I'm trying to impress! I've been wanting to get back to the table but I've just been too lazy. Thanks for stirring me up.

Kelly said...

Well said Jen. I think even those of us who don't watch much tv can find ourselves in front of it too much. Good for you catching on and fixing it.

April said...

Nice post Jen. :) Some of my best memories growing up are from our family's supper table (we said supper instead of dinner in the South; "dinner" was used to describe a super fancy supper.) There were six of us and it was always fun because my father would tell stories of his childhood and we'd just catch up with each other's lives. Nowadays, since it's just Mike and me, we usually eat in front of the tv since our tables usually have something I'm working on or he's working on - on them. And tv is one of the few things that calms Mike's brain down after some days at work, so it helps him relax. With kids though - I think it's important to have that connection time away from the tv. Good for you for catching it and creating such a nice environment at the table. :)