Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Power of the Table

Since it's now becoming "popular" to prepare dinner for the evening meal, I decided that I'd re-add my two cents and repeat this post first introduced a year ago.

The family mealtime around the table has power. The table and the meal are a vital part in creating a strong and stable family.

It’s a wise woman who recognizes the power of the table valuing the time it takes to plan, prepare and present the work of her hands (the meal) to her family at a table that might even looks as if the occasion included the King and Queen of England.

When a woman values it as God does, it has power to become a place of celebration, communion, training, story telling, laughter and family connection with each other and with God.

Centering Power
The table has “centering” power that gives structure and stability, love and security in a world that offers little of. The table is the place where children are introduced to new foods, develop manners and discipline, hear stories and even be affirmed in their own stories, ideas and experiences. The table is the place where special memories are created, holidays celebrated and legacies shared with those we cherish most.

Life Revolves Around the Kitchen
It’s been said that the kitchen is the center of the home and that the woman is the heart, the life and the light of the home. Family life used to center around meal time. Today, life often centers around the next activity. And, if that activity conflicts with the meal hour, then a quick drive through McDonalds resolves any conflict in home front meal preparation. Is the fast food industry just one enemy of the stability that the meal at the table provides?

What the Power of the Table Does
Establishing the mealtime routine at the table does so much for the family. Mealtime not only brings the family together and creates stability, but it also helps to build understanding and communication with each other. Establishing a meal time routine will give a husband and children a sense of security. The “centering” that the power of the table provides helps the family members do a better job when facing difficulties and stress at work or school.

I am big on table manners, they not only make mealtime pleasant, but they help train children how to show respect for others around the table. The table has power to teach children the value of waiting until they are served. It has power to teach them how to serve others. For example, both our daughters involve their children in the preparation process. Three children, ages three – six, know how to properly set the table with napkins, forks, knifes, spoons, plates and cups.

At the table, my grandchildren learn to be thankful for what God has provided for their family. Gulping down a Big Mac in the back seat of a car teaches nothing. My grandchildren aren’t “picky eaters” because they learned to try new foods by watching their parents at the table. My mother-in-law would tell her children, “You don’t have to eat it, you just have to taste it.”

Reclaiming the Power of the Table
As the life, light, and heart of the home, any woman can reestablish the power of the table with her family through establishing regular meal times. If it’s overwhelming to begin with two or three meals at the table, then just start with the evening one and work your way toward the breakfast meal.

Making the Meal Important
How does a home builder do that? First, communicate to your family that you will be serving them a special meal at the family table tonight, at – let’s say - 6:00 PM. The evening meal is typically eaten when the sun begins to set. It’s the time of day when the family returns home and life begins (or at least it should )to calm down.

Next, think about what you have that you can prepare. It can be as simple as a tuna casserole, a tossed salad, and some rolls. Planning is the key to a bride’s mealtime preparation. If you need help with menus or meal preparation, then seek the help of an older Titus Two woman.

Preparing the Table
Then, after you know what you’ll prepare, begin to think about your table. Spend a little bit of time “preparing the table.” Don’t just “set” the table, but “prepare the table.” Think about what you do have to “dress it up.” Those little touches make a difference. Do you have a tablecloth? If so, get it out and use it. If you don’t, use a sheet. Wash it (again) and iron it or buy a new one, as single size sheets can be inexpensive to purchase. Find one that matches your dishes or your personality. Put it on your table and tie the ends with some raffia or ribbon. If you have place mats add them to your table. If you don’t have them, an idea is to use folded dish towels or you. can even buy burlap, inexpensively and make your own place mats.

At times, I like to use both a tablecloth and place mats. Experiment, mix, and match your linens and your dishes. Have fun with “new” dishes by making a visit to the Salvation Army, Goodwill, or any other thrift store. I’ve found very great deals on mix n’ match dishes at the Goodwill.

Don’t wait until just before the meal is ready to be served to “prepare your table.” Do it beforehand. I have a formal dining room and a breakfast room, and I personally keep my tables prepared by leaving a tablecloth, place mats, and centerpieces on all the time. Because I have a pantry full of linens and dishes that I’ve gathered, I have the liberty to frequently change them and try something new.

Centerpiece Ideas
I think a centerpiece of some sort always adds a nice final touch. Use baskets, candles, or small picture frames of the family for centerpieces. Place fruit or unshelled nuts in a bowl and use that as your centerpiece. Be creative and bring the “outside” in. In the fall, have your children gather an array of autumn leaves and use them as a centerpiece. Place a small pot of mums on your table. They are a beautiful and colorful autumn flower and can be purchased reasonably. Pumpkins, gourds, pine cones, cranberries, and apples make a festive centerpiece.

Then, in your daily conversation with your family, begin to refer to the table as the family table. Plan on making meal times routine. Have them at the same time each day, and in time, your family will have the expectation and anticipation of gathering around the family table.

As a wise homebuilder, work toward planning menus. It will save time and money. Find the best and most healthy ingredients, make your meals colorful and appealing, and bring it to a table that looks as if the King and Queen were coming. Ask the Lord to bring out the creativity that is already in you! As you grow in your creativity, keep a notebook of what worked, or better yet, take pictures of your beautiful table ideas.

So, be encouraged, be challenged and reclaim the power of YOUR table. Why not set your table and post it on your blog then come back here and give the link!

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Tracey McBride said...

What a wonderful post! I agree with your philosophy. Although, in our house, it did get more difficult to implement as the kids became older. For a while they were not interested in the family table at all, now, they love it when we have a full sit down meal together. (Now that they're older, they have a bit of perspective and appreciation for it, perhaps:-) I have a theory that the reason people eat out so much is really not because of the food and convenience... I believe the biggest attraction is the fact that it offers the chance (often rare these days) of the entire family sitting together and communicating while breaking bread! Thanks so much for this thought-provoking post.
P.S. Also, thank you for your "happiness" wish!