Monday, September 7, 2015

The Importance of the Family Dinner Table

Labor Day Breakfast
     In my grandparents' home the dinner table was sacrosanct, both the formal one and the one in the kitchen where we ate most often.  No mess was allowed to clutter the dinner table.  The dining table was specifically for eating as a family, and while I might be permitted to sit at the one in the kitchen with my homework, or while we were shucking peas or doing other kitchen work, I had to leave it clean whenever I left, and that had to be in plenty of time for the next meal.
     We always set the table before meals, including place mats or table cloths, silverware etc.  Having a pretty table to look at was important.  We prayed before meals, and we did not leave the table until everyone was done.  (If I had to get up to go to the bathroom or for some other reason, I asked to be excused.)  There was no TV: We were expected to converse, except at breakfast, when we were allowed to look at the newspaper.  When we were done the dishes were removed, the table cleaned, and a centerpiece put back on so that it always looked nice.
     As I look back over my life, those households in which I have lived that were happy were characterized by two things: we prayed together, and the dinner table was sacrosanct and sitting down together as a family for meals was important.  In those that came to a bad end, these two things were lacking.  I cannot universalize, but that has been my decided experience, and I would certainly take a lesson from it.

If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.—J.R.R. Tolkien

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