Sitting down at the table together is still one of the best ways for families to grow and stay connected.
When we gather around the dinner table, I envision happy children with hands washed, eager to devour the meal prepared for them. Once seated, there is a hush as we take hands and offer thanks for our bounties. The conversations are light and fun. There is a feeling of warmth as we enjoy one another’s company while we discuss the highlights of our day.
There is a book that has been nestled among my cookbooks since Christmas. It is called “Dinner? It’s in the Bag!” Bringing your family back to the table one meal at a time. I have only ever leafed through the recipe section. Tonight, however, I had a few spare moments while I was making dinner to peruse the book a little further. The last section is titled “Table Talk and Family Fun.” There were a few ideas I thought worth noting.
“Meal time is a time to relax, connect and learn. Discipline, unpleasant subjects, tragic stories and stern lectures have no seat at the dining table. Those subjects can be discussed later in a private setting. Laying the cares of the day aside, turning off the television, video games, internet, telephone and turning on soft background music, will greatly enhance your efforts. As families gather around the table, the door is opened to learning about what we are all thinking, feeling and dreaming.
The author goes on to say, when her children were young every morning during breakfast her husband would pose a question. The children were encouraged to think about it during the day and collect research on the topic in preparation for discussing the answers that night at dinner. I was reminded of stories I have heard Stephen’s father tell about growing up around the dinner table. It was a question and answer feast each night as his father would ask a trivia question based on the current events of the day, past history or uncanny bits of information.
Another suggestion that was made in the book was about the importance of gratitude. Meal time is the “perfect time to express love and gratitude for each other and for our blessings.” She and her husband encouraged their children to take turns sharing their positive feelings about what they like about each other. She then talks about a friend whose family keeps a gratitude journal. When their children were younger, they would tell someone what to write in the journal or they would draw pictures. Today, the grandchildren have the opportunity to add their thoughts to the gratitude book.
I feel our lives are so busy during the day and especially more so leading up to dinner time. There have been times when the kids have dug in and left before Stephen and I ever got to the table. When we gather around the dinner table, for me, it is a time to sit together as a family. The only time during the day that we can toss our to do list aside and focus on each other. We give a sigh and let the rush of the day go. Sometimes, in the silence I can hear the children wondering “what is that strange sound?”
We can make dinner time more exciting by playing games such as trivia or making up stories. Take the time to really communicate. Ask questions. Be interested. Be positive. Really Listen.