Just before moving two years ago, Alison and I went furniture shopping. We had gotten by for four years with the furniture that we had each brought into our marriage. We were ready to trade up. Something that I really wanted was a real dining room table. As a military family, the dining room table was a staple of my childhood. No matter where we moved, or what house we were in, we always ate at the table.
The house that we live in has an eat-in kitchen with enough room for a full size table and four chairs. Just off the kitchen is a dining room. For our first two years in the new house, we mostly ate at the kitchen table. It was close to the food prep station, and it was easy. I could get the kids started on their meals and still be right next to them as I finished cooking mine. Our dining room table was used for crafts, projects, and folding laundry.
A switch flipped in my mind earlier this summer. I bought the table in the kitchen from a yard sale nine years ago. Now with a family of five, things were getting a little tight. With four people at the table plus a high chair, we were short on space. We decided to start using our dining room table for what it was made for: to eat on.
I didn’t think that it would make much of a difference. It did. I stopped serving the children first and then finishing the cooking. Now I get all of the food ready and then serve dinner. It made meals into an occasion. It wasn’t just sitting down to quickly eat, it was more like a destination. We eat slower, and talk more.
It’s important for the family to sit down and eat together. Sharing food is an intimate human ritual. By dining together frequently, the bonds of family are strengthened. If you have a dining room, think about using it exclusively for eating. You might be surprised at what a difference it will make.