Monday, April 7, 2014

Why I set the table every day.

I always wanted to have sit down meals around the table but we got into the habit of eating while sitting on the couch, on the go or wherever.  My husband worked non-traditional hours, I was in school, kids had various schedules which contributed to different meal times for all of us. Not to mention, when my husband worked during meal time hours and wasn't home, it felt like it was 'time off' for me. I'd make simple, snacks more than meals for myself and family.

Not having my husband/dad in the home anymore, we obviously feel the loss. I experienced a new freedom too. I could make decisions for my family, alone. I didn't have to cater to my husband's schedule or preferences.

If I wanted us to start eating around the table, then we were going to start eating around the table. I made this change just this year. My goal is at least 5 meals together, around the table, a week. Which is usually not more than one meal a day.

I started out clearing the table completely. My oldest had been using it as his computer desk. The table was covered with a fresh table cloth. This inspired me to bring out my nice serving pieces that were always hidden away in the cupboard, brought out only for special occasions.

My children are special. Special enough to use the good dishes...everyday. I have one of a kind, vintage dishes that can not be replaced. I unofficially inherited them when my grandma and mother died. They are gorgeous. But what good are they, what appreciation is shown for their beauty if they are hidden away forever?

Accidents happen. Dishes might get broken. That is part of the learning process. learning to be gentle, use manners and not stand ON the table.

The other part to this is the healing of the trauma of not having a husband and father in the home any more. There is no better word, or a softer way of putting it than trauma. Especially if you are raising your children in a Faith based home.

There are scriptures, a standard of living we subscribe to. Dads moving out and no longer wanting to be married to moms, is not one of them. For my children, it really felt like the end of the world. I guess, to them, it truly was.

I want to reassure my children that their life is going to be beautiful, regardless. A beautiful life is not determined by or dependent on anyone else. As long as they continue to follow Christ, their life will continue to be amazing and lovely.

Yes, we all want 'dad' in our lives, but if not, and it's his choice, we can {and will} still live a beautiful life with out him.

We can still have lovely meals, great conversation, and all while using the good dishes.

Even if we are only eating pizza, YES, I still set it out on a glass cake plate. I use what I have. Yep, I've already lost a couple of glass serving pieces. They were lovely. They were vintage.

They weren't humans. They can be replaced. So what? My children can't be replaced. They are *worth* more than the good dishes. I'd rather a beautiful dish break because it had been used and enjoyed, than it fell out of the cupboard, having never been enjoyed.

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It was definitely awkward at first. We'd eat the meal and then feel antsy and ready to leave. A few months in, it's become normal. If I had gotten discouraged and given up, we'd never be able to enjoy it like we do now.

It looks a lot more elaborate than it is really. Which is why we sometimes eat pizza, or good old fashioned spaghetti. I light candles at night and sometimes in the afternoon. I believe life is romantic. We aren't disqualified from a romantic, beautiful life because daddy doesn't live here any more.

My children have needed me more than ever before, during this season. They needed a stable adult to give them hope and reassure them of their prosperous future. This is one way I can do that for them. I show my love for them by setting a lovely table. I affirm their individual value by taking the time, putting in the effort to prepare a meal and set a table as beautiful and creatively as I can.

Life is going to be painful at times. It's unavoidable. As parents, I don't think we need to shield our kids from every heartache, but why not soften the blow a bit? Childhood is preciously short. My kids have been forced to grow up  in some ways, prematurely. I don't want them to remember only trauma. I want them to remember at least one small space in their home that was lovely. It's peaceful. In the coldness of the harsh realities that can strike us unexpectedly, there is a beautiful space and time they can look forward too. No matter how busy we are, we can come together, at least once a day and reconnect. It's the least I can do.

If you are interested in creating a beautiful space to enjoy your meals, here are a few tips that make it simpler:

  • I leave the table set, every day. After a meal, dishes are washed {usually!} and then set right back out, ready for the next meal. Yes, this DOES make the table pretty much useless for anything else. I don't mind.

  • Stack the dishes on the table. Since the table does become useless always being set, I started stacking the dishes on the table sometimes if we might need the space. This is only for the plates and bowls. Cups, wine glasses and silverware are put away since they are easy to get out again.

  • I involve my kids in the process. I ask them for suggestions on table settings, meal preferences, creative input on what to include or exclude from the table. We *are* intentionally trying to make it *look* good.

  • Ignore the awkwardness if you aren't used to it. It gets better. It gets easier. My kids are now so used to it, if it's not a *family* meal time, they still sit at the table to eat. Sometimes I will use the time to share a scripture verse or prayer for the day from a book. It helps break the ice and set the tone for peace and faith focus.

  • Use what you have. I took down serving pieces from the top shelves of my cupboards. I pulled out China pieces that were being neatly displayed on shelves. I have real silverware that doesn't match. I found a whole bag of it, on sale at the thrift store.

  • Keep the menu simple. Even hot dogs look fancy when stacked on a cake plate! Water is froo-froo when you toss in lemon slices. 

  • Don't limit the meal to dinner. Choose a meal time that works for your family and your schedule. My goal is at least one meal a day and it isn't always dinner.

  • Enjoy yourself and relax.


  1. I love seeing how you display each day's meals on your beautiful table arrangement - even the simple foods look so pretty when displayed. This is something I wouldn't have thought of myself. Your ability to find beauty in all things is inspirational to me. :)

  2. Your photos are gorgeous! Love this idea. I always try to sit at the table for dinner. My son loves it and insists on it if I get laxy or busy. Your table set ups are gorgeous. Your children will have fun, fabulous family memories

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  4. This is such a fabulous idea!! Your table settings are amazing! Your making great family memories. We eat dinner at the tabke everynight for dinner. It is one of my sons favorite things. My table looks nothing like


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