It seems that the days of sitting around the dining room table for a meal is sliding away. We are too busy, so more often than not, we either grab something on our way from one place to another, or if we actually cook dinner at home, plates are fixed and we head to the television or to our rooms to eat. I admit the Country Boy and I are guilty of this sometimes. He works until almost dark, and when he comes home, he is outside doing chores. There are times it is nine o’clock or after when he finally comes through the door. I have long since eaten, and kept a plate warm for him. Still, given the opportunity, we both enjoy just sitting at the table and having the chance to talk.
Living on the farm, we are too far to make restaurants a regular habit. When friends and family come to visit, it means having a meal that is served and eaten at the table. Food is served buffet style, and we don’t have to shush ourselves if the conversation gets too loud (or risqué).
When our children were young, even if we had the rare meal of take out, we still sat at the table and talked. It was our time to learn about each other’s day, to laugh at a joke, or just be a family. It was a very precious time for me, and I wouldn’t have changed it for the world.
I have spoken with many people who tell me they eat standing over the kitchen sink, in front of the television, or in the car after having stopped by a fast food window. That just seems too sad and too lonely for words. Maybe it is time we change things around, and reinstitute that age-old custom of sitting at the table for meals, even if it is only two people. Have you lost the art of conversation? Do you no longer know how to act at the dinner table? Here are a few things that can help break the ice.
1) Hi, Honey. How was your day?
2) I heard a great joke today…
3) If you could have three other people, living or dead, sitting around the table with us tonight, who would it be, and why?
4) What is the funniest thing that happened to you this week?
5) List five things you would like to do in life. When? Why?
6) If reincarnation was possible, who would you like to come back as and why? What would you do differently than they did?
7) Introduce a brain teaser puzzle and see who can solve it first. Winner gets served dessert first!
To keep the conversation pleasant, it may be wise to refrain from politics, chastisement, or any subject that could spark an argument. This is a time to be nice. There is nothing that will spoil food quicker than being in the hot seat, or discussing things that can be upsetting. And food fights just take too long to clean up. Make it a point to keep it light and fun (here again, food fights may be fun in the moment, but they cease to be once you have to start cleaning up the mess!). You can try one or more, or even come up with your own conversation starters. The point is to keep the conversation flowing, with all parties participating. You would truly be amazed at what you can learn about the other people who are enjoying that meal.
You can even take it a step further. Either include everyone in helping to clean up, and thereby keeping the family togetherness going just a little while longer, or choose one person to help, allowing for a more one-on-one conversation. It is these ‘little talks’ where some people will open up more, and talk about something that may be weighing heavy on their heart.
No matter how you do it, you might just be surprised that the family bond you are working towards creating will become a little tighter and more firm in its hold. And isn’t being close the whole basis of loving your family?
Go ahead. Try it. Make your dinner from scratch. Set the table. Have a seat, and let the conversations begin. You won’t regret it for a moment.