“If there’s one thing you take away from here, I want you to remember to keep the dinner table sacred.”
No explanation. Just a blanket statement. That’s the last piece of advice I remember our pre-marital counselor giving us 10 years ago. We walked out of there with smiles on our faces, but really clueless as to what that even meant.
Sure we knew what it meant to have family dinners. We both grew up doing that. Is that what he means? We asked each other as we made the short drive back to my house. If that’s all it is, that’s easy, right? Just eat dinner together every night like we did growing up. It can’t be that hard. My mom made it look easy. Yeah, so did mine. And we went on our way.
Fast forward several months later. Here we are, newly weds in our very own place! A one bedroom apartment in a retirement complex. Yes, 30 years younger than our neighbors, and inclined to join Bingo night every Thursday, but we qualified. Home Sweet Home.
We were your typical newly wed couple. Poor. We had maybe 5 pieces of furniture; a couch, a chair, one bookcase, a dresser and a mattress. That’s it. It was to our advantage that we ended up in the retirement complex because we didn’t own a tv. However, we never missed an episode of Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy or nightly news for an entire year! How you ask, is this possible without a tv ? (back then streaming everything wasn’t as available as it is now.) We simply heard them all through our wall. Combination of elderly and hard of hearing neighbors can sometimes pay-off. Or not. Depends on how you want to look at it.
So here we are in our tiny little apartment loving married life. I had prepared dinner in our 10 x 10, if I’m being generous, kitchen and we were ready to dig in. We took our usual places sitting on the living room/dining room/hall way/….you get the point, floor. When I looked up at my husband and said, “do you remember when Don told us to keep the dinner table sacred?” Yeah, replied my husband. “Uhhh, how are we supposed to do that if we don’t even own a table?” I asked. We both looked around the room and we started laughing.
As time went by, children were made, and home changed places on several occasions, we began to understand what it meant to “keep the dinner table sacred”. Yes, there were several years where we actually did not own a dining room table. But that didn’t matter. It wasn’t about the table.
We saw just how much of a challenge it could be to actually physically get everyone to sit down at the table at the same time (once we had a table). Toddlers running off, spills here and there, I need more of this, I would like some more of that.Up and down, up and down was the nightly dinner routine. I felt like General Sherman marching; when he’s up he’s up. When he’s down he’s down, but when he’s only half way up he’s neither up nor down!
Then it became, by the way, I’m taking off early to take child X to soccer. I’ll be back later. Save us some dinner. Don’t forget tomorrow child Y has ballet. She should eat before she goes,etc. You know the drill. We’ve all been there. It was then, amidst the crazy that we realized what it truly meant to keep the dinner table sacred. We thought back to when we were first married. Sitting on the floor, facing one another, talking to one another, connecting with one another, despite the fact that we weren’t even sitting at a table.
What happens around the dinner table?
You see each other face to face, conversations roar, connections are made, friends gather, family gathers, you partake in food together, thankfulness, blessings, laughter, and fun. It all happens at the dinner table.
But it’s not about the table.
It’s about the people.
This is what it means to keep the dinner table sacred.
Things have changed in our household with this enlightenment. We now make it a top priority to gather together as a family unit around our dinner table.
It’s a place where we come together and connect with one another after being apart or just celebrating making it through another day. That’s what it is, a celebration. A celebration of us.
A way to thank God for another day, another meal, and for each other. A time to ask one another what their favorite part of the day was. What challenged them and what they are most proud of accomplishing. We ask our children those questions and they ask us at each dinner. They love it. I love it. It excites them and we connect as a family.
Are we perfect at this, no. Do we have days we miss, yes. But we are improving.
I challenge you to keep the dinner table sacred.
Knowing, it’s not about the table.