Candle Light Dinner for Five

November 15, 2010

Last Wednesday night at our house was a normal night, like most others. Philip {my hubby} was picking up the kids from school and I was getting dinner ready. Most Wednesday nights we are off to soccer and basketball for the older two. Ella {our youngest} faithfully accompanies me to Gabriel’s games and Sophia is shuttled to and from basketball practice with skill and accurate timing. Tonight was slightly different when it came to schedules, due to a cancelled soccer game Gabriel was going to enjoy a relaxing night at home. Sophia, on the other hand, had to be out of the house by 6pm so dinner was well and truly on the go.

Many of you, who have either read my articles or listened to my radio show, know that I am PASSIONATE about families gathering around the kitchen/dining table and eating together. Most nights we make this happen, simply because we have made the choice to juggle and arrange our after school activities around our meals rather than our meals around our activities. Needless to say, this took some planning and adjusting of plans to execute effectively. We have also made the choice not to hyper schedule our kids or our family for that matter. Meals together take priority as we believe it is the one time of the day when we, as a family, come together and calm down. We discuss the day, talk about the great things, the challenges, the fun, the not-so-fun and everything in between. Meal times are precious and protected.

Tonight I decided that I would add a few ‘touches’ to the table. As the rice bubbled away for one last minute in the rice cooker, I quickly grabbed a table cloth, some candles and set the table. It was easy to do and the impact on the family rewarding. Dinner was average. It was a simple chicken stew complete with veggies, rice and my special brussels sprouts {thanks Chef Andre}. Nothing flash tonight, just good home cooking that warms the soul.
I marvelled at what happened at our table. I was once again reminded about the importance of coming together around the kitchen/dining table. So much is taught and caught whilst sitting together and eating. Tonight at our table there were quite a few lessons shared whilst enjoying the conversation surrounding the stories of the day. Philip and I laughed with the kids, corrected them at times and quietly reminded them, simply by example, how to use their napkins, place their forks and in one case even how to chew.

Crazy things can and do happen at a dinner table when three kids hungry and excited kids plus parents gather round. Here are just a few from our dinner tonight.
Rice can and does fly out of little noses when laughing at a big brother whilst he’s making a funny voice and trying to chew at the same time. A brussels sprout can end up in a glass of milk, requiring a helping hand to fish it out. Reassurance that the milk is not contaminated and doesn’t need replacing is needed for a little 5 year old little girl. There are a few tears shed when food gets caught between the wires of braces and the frustration of seemingly endless orthodontist visits is expressed. Although these tears quickly turn to fits of laughter when a bit of gas seeps out at an unexpected moment, from a laughing brother. Napkins fall to the ground, sauce is spilt on the table cloth and the candles serve as temptation as little hands gravitate towards the burning wax. It’s like the candle is beaconing the kids to play in the warmth and glow of the flame. Grammar is corrected without them realizing, consideration and prayers for the child at school who’s struggling are shared. All of this and so much more happens when families come together, calm down and turn off all of the outside sound bites.

This is just a glimpse of the richness we as a family carve out for us every night. In these times, we learn from our children and our children learn from us. The dining/kitchen table is where conversation flows freely, where joy and laughter walk hand-in-hand and where community in your home is formed. Can I encourage you to clear off the table, set it, cook a simple meal and invite your family to the table. You won’t regret it.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Tanya Cooper November 15, 2010 at 2:26 pm

Love it Susan! We can totally underestimate the value and impact our normal family dinners have on our families! I have taken a cue from you my friend, and do make the effort every so often to try and dress up the table a bit to turn an average dinner into a special occasion to remember for no real reason other than its Tuesday (or whatever).

admin November 15, 2010 at 2:51 pm

Thanks Tanya. Glad you enjoyed it and so glad you’re ‘dressing’ it up a bit. Keep it up and give us one of your stories.

Michaela November 15, 2010 at 2:57 pm

I looooove this! So real…so real.

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