Sunday, April 22, 2012

THE FAMILY TABLE

"I'd rather have roses on my table, than diamonds on my neck."
~Emma Goldman

I grew up with a mom who was gifted at the art of presentation. It was a rare occasion when our dining table wasn't adorned with fresh cut flowers, lit candles, and a lovely tablescape. Paper napkins were a rare and unwelcome guest at our table. Even a soda can or beer bottle was frowned upon. Condiments were served from pretty dishes, never out of a bottle or jar. My mom was a stickler for detail, and she made every meal an enjoyable dining experience.

When I got married, I longed to carry on her example and make dinner for my own family equally as special. But the odds were stacked against me when I married a man with two very active boys. I remember many frustrated nights when I'd put the time and effort into trying to create the same wonderful dining experience I grew up with, only to have it interrupted by a soccer practice or t-ball game. Don't get me wrong ~ I knew how important these were to the kids and to my husband. But I resented their infringement upon our dinner hour, and the fact that sports in general seemed to rule so much of our lives.

I was fighting a losing battle. I compromised, setting aside my visions of our family sitting around the dining room table together on a regular basis. I put aside the notion of creating a lovely and welcoming presentation. And I gave in to casual dining.
That set the tone for our dining experience as a family. Eventually, I was able to revisit my desire for a more idyllic family table as our younger two got a bit older. But it was short-lived by the onset of adolescence and conflicting schedules that arose.

For years, we have been a household that eats different foods at different times, in different places. One is a vegetarian...one likes red meat...one likes chicken and fish. Some prefer an earlier meal, others like to eat later in the evening.

I look back on the family dinners I grw up with, and I still long for the same in my own home. Perhaps this is because some of my warmest memories were formed at the table my mother prepared so lovingly each night. But here's a thought ~ maybe I can put aside the frustration of not having what I want (my family eating together each night) and simply create a warm and inviting family table. Perhaps they will be drawn to it; they may even sit and dine at it. If not, at least I have had the pleasure of creating something I enjoy. Even if I sit down by myself, isn't it better than curling up on the couch with my meal?

I feel inspired to get out my favorite recipe books. I know just the linens I want to use. The camelias blooming along our driveway will make a sweet centerpiece. I don't know if anyone will join me. That's okay. Either way, I am reclaiming the family table.

"The body must be nourished, physically, emotionally and spiritually. We're spiritually starved in this culture ~ not underfed but undernourished."
~Carol Hornig            

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