Wednesday, November 2, 2011

{A Month of Thanks} The Dinner Table

It seems simple enough, this eating together.  But it's not as easy to pull off when folks in the same family are being pulled hither and yon, one to a meeting here, another to a practice there, and aren't all of these things important?  But this is not about discussing the merits of a particular person's choices regarding their time versus the hard fought decisions of another.  No, this is more about the choice I want to make, above and beyond the ones about appointments and time management and such.

The choice I want to make to be together.

Ironically, we spend a lot of time together around here already.  Actually, most hours of most days are played out here...reading, playing, writing, make-believing, dreaming...
That, too, is a choice and a wonderful one at that.

But there's something about the dinner hour that causes us to shift, ever so slightly, from one realm to another.  I think it's that melting of sunshine into pools of lamplight that ushers in a sacredness, a knowing.  It's also that quickening in the belly that causes us to seek out connection.

I grew up with a mother that cooked every.single.night.
And among the many things that I could count on as a child, dinner at the kitchen table was among the most sure and true.  So deeply carved into my daily rhythm was this practice that my first memory of consciously choosing to skip out on it one evening, in order to go to Subway with a friend, still elicits a slight shutter and feeling of complete wrongness, much like it did when I sat there, years ago, eating my sandwich with a guilty pit in my stomach and a disdain for my new found adolescent independence.

Granted, although I was engaged in life, I wasn't an over-scheduled kid, even in high school.  I know that my relaxed attitude made it much easier to be present at dinner on a regular basis.  But honestly, I think that the anchor of dinner time in my house informed my decision making when given the option to be somewhere else at 6:30 on any given evening.  I genuinely wanted to be there.  And I'm pretty sure that one of the biggest reasons that I wanted to be there was because I knew that other people really wanted me to be there too.

And so now I find myself on the other side of that equation.  I'm now the one responsible for cooking the meal and making this dinner thing happen.  It's taken me nearly 14 years to perfect the timing required to simultaneously put several things on the table that are still fairly warm and edible.  And I still struggle to strike a balance between the "You get what you get and don't pitch a fit" and "He has to eat!" camps.

But it's okay.  It's that rhythm that I want, that I want my kids to feel, reverberating deep within their cores.

That feeling that whispers

"this is where I want to be..."

So, how then do we live?

Well, we start by crafting a meal and then inviting those we hold most dear to join us at the table.  Today.  And again, tomorrow.  And the next day.  Until all of the evenings tumble into each other and it becomes as natural as rain and we can't imagine not doing it.

And all the while, as we sit across from each other, looking into eyes and laughing at jokes and listening to the highs and lows...all this long while, we are doing something even more important.

We are living thanks.  Thanks living.  And it is good.

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