• Mealtimes At The Zoot House

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    Periodically I read an entry or a Facebook status or a tweet where someone mentions that they’re not Dinner-Around-A-Table kind of people. Brittany wrote a hysterical commentary about where her family communicates best yesterday. And every time I read something like that I think: Why are we SUCH dinner table people?

    Because we are very much dinner table people.

    Now…I do think Donnie periodically lets everyone eat in front of the TV if I’m not there. But for the most part? He’s a dinner table person too.

    I’m not sure when that happened. I didn’t grow up a dinner table person. We had a picnic table in our kitchen that we sometimes ate around, but rarely at the same time. I didn’t have a dinner table for the first 8+ years of E’s life. We did have a picnic table like Dad’s, but it wasn’t always put together as sometimes we lived in places that didn’t fit it.

    I was trying to remember when we bought our first dinner table, and I thought I’d see if I wrote about it on this blog. I did! (I love having a blog.) We bought it at a yard sale and used it as our dinner table until we moved into our current house. I think we started eating at a table back then, in 2004, when there was just three of us.

    I guess it became important to me because it felt so very normal. Being raised by a single Father in an unusual home (we had gurneys as porch furniture!), I looked at a lot of “normal” things as something I didn’t have. We didn’t have a couch, a dinner table, central heat or air. You know…TOTALLY OBSCURE THINGS NO ONE HAS.

    And by “no one” I mean “everyone but us”.

    So, I oddly romanticized all of those things. When we finally got that table? It was like the last piece of my “normal” puzzle. A table! To eat around! Like all of my friend’s families did growing up!

    At least – that’s the only good “reason” I can come up with for being so attached to eating around the dinner table.

    Our lives are often too busy to all eat at the same time, but I still don’t let anyone eat in front of the TV on my watch. If there’s 3 or less of us eating at one time, I’ll allow a move to the breakfast table instead of the dining room, but I really like us all being in the dining room. And when we’re all 5 there at one time? I do the old-fashioned thing and no one is allowed to leave the table until everyone is done eating.

    Again…I’m not sure WHY this is so important to me. But it is. We don’t make our beds up, we don’t really clean the deeply, we often let our grass get too tall and we never rake our leaves. But I do insist that we eat at a table. And I can’t even explain why. Does it add any great conversation? No. Most of it is spent me begging the kids to eat. Or trying to pry information out of them. “How as your day? What did you do? What did you learn?” And they are ALL THREE about as responsive as the dining room table itself.

    But something about it just feels right to me. Some part of me looked at that for so long as something “normal” families do, so it is ingrained in my head to just do it – as a “normal” family.

    Would they keep doing it if I wasn’t around? I don’t know. Donnie does allow the TV Dinner events periodically – but I think that’s a “special occasion” thing. (And by “special occasion” I mean “football game”.) But, I don’t think he’s emotionally attached to the action. Of course – he grew up in a “normal” family, often eating around a table. It’s nothing special to him.

    But to me? It just brings me tremendous joy. Even when I’m trying to force my kids to eat something other than Mac-n-Cheese.

    What about you? Did you grow up eating around the dinner table? What do you do as an adult?