“There is no life experience that replaces the connection and significant created by eating together at the table. Whether young or old, when a person experiences trauma, temptation, or embarrassment, being invited to the table makes them feel valued and restores their sense of significance.” – Devi Titus, The Table Experience
“Come and get it!” was often the call resounding through our home at the dinner hour. I have many a precious memory from our family dinner table as a child to a young adult. It was often a challenge to gather all eight children plus mom and dad around the table. Family togetherness at dinner was a thing my mother preserved. It may have been only 3-4 nights each week, but they were special sacred times together, especially our weekly family night every Friday evening.
Sometimes it may have been buffet style, at other times it was a more formal pass the plate around the table, or a picnic out on the back deck or lawn, or simply take and bake pizza, but in every case the preservation of love and relationships were cherished. Many times it was simply served on paper plates, but that mattered little, as we were together. Food has such a powerful way of bringing us together. Turn off the distractions, the technology, and build your health as well. It is an opportunity to slow down and focus on what is most important – our relationships. It is one way to preserve and protect the family.
Preserving Laughter & Relationship
Conversation and fellowship over the meal provides wonderful opportunities for family bonding and planning. The ability to share our lives with one another face to face not only strengthens our own identity but also fosters security, love, and affection. Use the time to ask each other about their day, to laugh at our mistakes, and encourage one another. Plan family trips, church activities, ways to serve others, or any other upcoming events. Eating together can have such power in building a strong family unity that will make a difference in this day and age.
Why not make the table a place to cultivate thanksgiving? Go around and ask each family member what they are thankful for, or something that they are thankful for that transpired that day. This is a simple way to share the events of the day and conclude it in a spirit of joy and thanksgiving, which not only encourages one another, but draws the attention back to acknowledging the Source of our lives.
The dinner table is a powerful opportunity to come together and pray on behalf of others. Set up a world map next to your table with missionaries or other people on your heart as a reminder for prayer. Designate a night each week with a prayer theme. Perhaps pray for neighbors on Mondays, your nation on Tuesdays, etc.
Preserving Hospitality to Your Own
Preserving the dinner table is an opportunity to demonstrate hospitality to those dearest to us. Put a little thought into your table setting. Make it special with candles, cloth napkins, cloth place-mats, a simple bouquet of flowers, or something meaningful to your family. Serve a favorite meal. Or designate one night a week as a special celebratory family night. We love having homemade pizza every Friday night followed by some fun family outing, games, or movie night. Be creative. It need not be every meal, but making an extra effort on occasion can really bless your family. They need to know that we love and care for them just as we would others.
Preserving Working Together
Meal preparations were often a family affair at our home. Mom would have an assigned helper for the meal or my sisters and I would take an evening meal once a week to prepare on our own. More often then not, there were multiple of us in the kitchen cooking together. This not only helped build our nutrition and cooking skills but also assisted in building our relationships as we prepared meals side by side. With younger children in tow, it’s fun to include them in meal preparations as well. From simple dicing with a safe knife, to setting the table, it is easy to find a job for eager hands to complete. For more ideas and inspiration, read Cultivating Learning in Everyday Activities- in the Kitchen.
That being said, it doesn’t have to be dinner time for these goals to be accomplished. Strive for one other meal during the day to which you could sit down face to face with each other. Or if one member is not available, don’t throw in the towel altogether. You can still cultivate peace and relationship even if one or two are absent.
It’s beneficial for the body and soul.
“Every soul has its unique nuances. Each of us is uniquely formed in our mother’s wombs…However, there is one thing we all share – the need to connect. To dine with someone is to connect with that person. The table experience with your spouse, family, friends, and colleagues – and even your enemies – has the potential to begin bonding human hearts in a new way, a deep way that brings spiritual connection, a bonding that life’s circumstances should not break. During meals hurting hearts heal, sad hearts are made glad, depressed hearts get new vision, and divided hearts come to peace.” – Devi Titus, The Table Experience
Dinner Table Conversation Starters
The Surprising Power of Family Meals: How Eating Together Makes Us Smarter, Stronger, Healthier & Happier by Miriam Weinstein
The Table Experience: Discover What Develops Deeper, More Meaningful Relationships by Devi Titus
How do you maintain a regular time of eating together as a family? Any hints you might share?