Recently I was watching one of those home buying shows with my wife. We enjoy sitting at night and watching a show like that on Netflix to just wind down from the day. In several episodes of late I have noticed a trend; many young families looking to buy a new home do not see a need for having a formal dining room. Not that there is anything special about a formal dining room. We in America like our houses big in comparison to most homes in the world. I am not advocating the need for a big home, but rather, seeing this pattern made me think about what a dining room symbolizes. To me, it symbolizes family. I can count on one hand how many times my family growing up ate around the dining room table. We would sometimes eat together, but it was always on TV trays in front of some show. I remember once I was grown thinking that if the Lord allowed me to have a family, I wanted to make it a regular routine to eat as a family around the dinner table. It seems that for many, the family table has gone the way of the dinosaurs. I believe there is still great value in having a family table and using it often. Here are a few reasons why I believe we should still be eating our meals around the table.
It is a place of teaching:
There are many valuable lessons that can be taught at the family table. The children learn to allow adults to have conversation without them having to be the center of attention. The children learn to interact with adults in a proper way. It allows the children to see how grownups interact with each other. It also allows the children to learn to sit still . . . which is not always an easy lesson with three boys under the age of five in the Burrell home. Finally, it is a good place for the children to learn how to pray. We pray before each meal, and the child often get a turn in repeating after my wife or me when we pray. It is a great place for teaching.
It is a place to show appreciation:
Growing up, I remember my little family often going to four different rooms of the house to eat. We would just grab our food and go our own ways, never really giving thought to the time and effort my mother put into cooking the meal. One tradition we have in our home is that we try to show the cook our appreciations by giving them “Harrumphs” (saying harrumph and softly hitting the table at the same time) to show our appreciation for the good food. This is not always the most elegant thing, but we want the cook (most often my wife) to know that we are grateful she has taken the time to prepare such a wonderful meal for the family. We want the cook to know that their work is appreciated.
It is a place that shows time with family has value:
We live in a very busy world. Most parents get less than 15 minutes of meaningful conversation each week with their children. The family is pulled in a million different directions. My wife and I decided before we ever wed that we wanted to put a high priority on family life. We are selfish, and fail at it often, but we believe that having our meals together each day should be a priority. We believe that family time is valuable. We believe that it should be fought for, because so often it is fought against. We are blessed to be able to have 2 or 3 half hour meals together each day (my job affords that luxury). This helps us to keep our family as a priority but it also shows our children that time with them matters. Time with the family is valuable.
It is a place for family worship:
There are many places a family can choose to do their devotion together. There is no one place better than another, but for us it works out to do it at the dinner table. We often do it either after breakfast, or after our dinner. The most important thing is that you do. The dining room table works well for us. It allows the little ones to have a place to put their hands. It provides the older ones with fewer distractions (no toys or electronics at the table). It allows us to just focus on the Lord and enjoy time with Him and each other while worshiping Him. The dinner table is, for us, a place of worship.
We love the family table. We laugh there. We cry there. We pray there. We sing there. We learn there. We play games there. We make messes there. We do a lot there. It is a wonderful place that I think way too many people are missing out on. It is after all just a table, but what it represents for my family is so much more. Where do you eat as a family? Where do you worship as a family? I encourage you to think about gathering your family around the dinner table, if you do not already, and just see what kind of memories you can make there. I hope you don’t let your family table go the ways of the dinosaurs. I hope you make memories, and not fossils of that old piece of wood.
Soli Deo Gloria,
Adam B Burrell.