The dining table is a sight of immense satisfaction to me. Some of my earliest childhood memories involve staring over my sippie cup at all the faces around the table. In time I grew to recognize the faces: my dad, my mom, my older sister.
Better still, amazing food could be found at the dining table. We could only eat if we were sitting down at the table, and mealtimes were always more or less at the same time: 7 a.m. breakfast, noon lunch, 6 p.m. dinner. Of course, these times might vary half an hour or so if there was a special appointment, but these came few and far between.
Being late to the dinner table was one of the cardinal sins of the household. Not only were you letting the food grow cold, but you also made everyone else wait for you and their food grew cold too.
Fast forward several years or so to when I was considering getting married. Somehow I always assumed that as a married couple, we would eat breakfast, lunch and dinner together at the dining room table.
That assumption quickly evaporated. My husband sometimes skipped breakfast or lunch, nibbled heartily in-between mealtimes, and didn’t have a set meal schedule at all!
More so, I quickly learned that the two of us could demolish meals meant to serve 4-6 people. Those serving sizes on pasta or rice boxes, I unhappily concluded, were either made for midgets or just not right for us.
Recently my sister-in-law came to stay with us, and I prepared lunch for the three of us. “Where would you like to sit?” I asked, looking toward the dining table.
She looked confused for a moment. “Oh! I really don’t mind. We don’t usually sit at the table when we eat, anyway …”
I halted, my brain trying to process such alien information. Not sit down? To eat a family meal without a dining table was momentarily unthinkable for me.
But no, it was true. She blithely explained that most of the time they didn’t eat together anyways, so the children would just take food from the fridge or wherever and eat right there in the kitchen.
Light bulb! So now my husband’s peculiar eating habits made sense to me – the lack of scheduled mealtimes, grabbing food at random from the fridge, and original surprise at my requests that we sit down together whenever eating lunch or dinner.
What’s your family dining table like? Is it a regular fixture, an occasional support, or nonexistent? 🙂