Time to Linger
Several years ago I was challenged with the difference in how our evenings meals where between when we had visitors and when it was just our family.
When we had visitors, not only would I spend more time in the kitchen and the table would be set with more care, but our attitude was different too. When we had guests we would linger over conversation, maybe the other lady and I would get up and put a few dishes through before I served dessert. Conversation would continue over a cuppa. Reluctantly our visitors would leave as it was getting late. This is not the way of family dinners.
Family dinners look like a quick meal cooked in 30minutes, the table is everyday ware, conversation has to be over and done within the hour as bed times beckon, the kids get up to do the dishes and I disappear to read emails. Now there is some sense to this routine as kids do need to get into bed and every evening can’t last till late in the night. It isn’t so much the timing of things but rather the heart attitude and intentionality of evening meal times that I was challenged about.
- Setting the table tells our guests that we are expecting them and that we want to make this time special. Our family deserve the same message: Our time together is precious and I want to make it special.
- Food indicates a celebration and the food we prepare tells our guests we are excited about being together. Our family deserve the same message: I am excited about us being together – let’s celebrate.
- Good conversation happens when we give ourselves to the other person – when we want to know what is going on in their life. Our family deserve the same message: I am interested in you.
- Good times happen when we relax and forget about our to-do list. Our family deserve this same message: I want to be with you right now, let’s have fun!
The word that describes the attitude or atmosphere I want around the evening dinner table is linger – to hold off from rushing away, to stay, to hang around. I want my family to hang around together, to be so enjoying each other’s company that there is no rush towards anything else.
Some of the things we’ve done (or are working on)
- Candles on the table
- Find matching table ware – placemats, glasses, dinner plates
- Serve the meal with flair – not just plonk it on a plate
- Have the cooking dishes done before we sit down
- Read aloud during dessert
- Plan a few conversation starters
- Set aside 1-1.5 hours for dinner, most days of the week
I know that I have an older family than many of my readers but can I encourage you to find that balance between getting dinner over and done as a task, and creating a family habit of enjoying time together at the end of the day.