Monday, June 30, 2008

About Dinner

I love family dinners. We eat together every night, with only occasional exceptions. It might not be gourmet, but it's real. It's one of the memories of home I want my kids to take with them when they go. Knowing my kids, they'll probably remember the conversations about cannibalism more than anything else, but it's something.

We always have a tablecloth on the table. Sounds luxurious, but I think it's just another one of my endless collections. I love tablecloths. We usually have cloth napkins that may or may not match the tablecloth depending on who set the table. Think of the wonderful possibilities this holds for self expression! The napkins! The goofy/funky/pretty/handmade napkin rings. Maybe you need to be a bleary-eyed mother of three toddlers traipsing through a mall to really understand the glory of napkin rings. You buy them in a part of the store where nothing can break. It's like heaven.

I've taught my kids to crumb the table after meals using a crumb sweeper. Not that they actually do it, but I've taught them. Wasabi girl likes to do it. It's a very satisfying way to clean up a crumby mess. No clue what I'm talking about? Here's one, the Crumb Pod Tablecloth Sweeper by Casabella. It even says in the description it's ideal for families with young children. Hmmm, mine are 10 and 11 and still messy. I asked my sister one time how she managed to keep her dining area so clean and she pointed to her fat little dog. Ah!

Nobody can start eating until we're all seated and someone says grace. We have a variety of prayer styles, and the kids know that they may be called on any time to extemporize. We have a fallback that we use on nights when we're unimaginative - "For health and strength and daily bread we praise thy name oh Lord." Only we sing it as a round, often loudly, so when the windows are open I'm sure the neighbors hear "FOR HEALTH AND STRENGHTFOR HEALTH AND STRENGTHFOR HEALTH. . ." x5 as we all get our voice in there. After Easter we sing the Orthodox Resurrection Hymn in Greek, also pretty loudly. Poor neighbors.

Drama Girl likes to focus her eating on the bread group, while the twins put away mass quantities of everything. Wasabi Girl is the tiniest person in the family but she eats like a football player. Obviously didn't get that metabolism from me.

We carry on a tradition from my family of serving milk from a white pottery milk jug. It just tastes better that way. We drink a lot of milk. Neighbors come to us when they want to change their oil because we always have lots of empty plastic jugs ready for recycling.

When we're all stuffed there is one more tradition I've taught the kids. In order to leave the table, they have to ask to be excused. Another habit from my own parents I guess. It's just polite. They come up with their own phrasing and often rush the words out so they can get going. Jungle Boy says "thankyouforthiswonderfulmealI'malldonemayIpleasebeexcused?" in about one syllable.

It isn't fancy, they don't have perfect manners, milk spills and feet kick under the table, but it's dinner, and I'll miss it when they're gone.

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I'm also posting today over at How Do You Do It?

11 people stopped folding laundry to write:

Cheryl Lage said...

Feel like I've just experienced a joyful meal at your family table! :)

We are big on the blessings, and need to be excused as well..."I'm done" is simply insufficient.

I DO remember our family meals as kids...I'm betting yours will remember your tablecloth-adorned meals with great fondness. :)

Nancy said...

wow!! I'm *so* jealous. At this point in time, since my husband doesn't get home from work until 7pm, we don't eat many meals as a family. *sigh* On weekends, our big family meal is usual out at a fast food restaurant. I'm hoping that once the kids are a little bit older I'll be able to do the things you mention here because I remember our family meals as well. WAY TO GO!! I'm impressed :)

noble pig said...

I think that's a wonderful tradition. I love the milk jug idea, milk always tastes better that way.

Suzanne Eller said...

I also had three under two. Today they are 25, 25, and 26. I'm 48, and I survived! : ) Love your blog. Although I can see you put on a better table than I ever did.

angie said...

What great traditions!

Kellan said...

This is so nice - I love the milk pitcher idea and all the nice tradition you are creating for your family!

Have a good evening - Kellan

Shawn said...

Lovely post. I agree, dinners are special. Well, at least I can't wait for that day because right now they are just a mess and a disaster. Especially the ones I try extra hard for. But, that's just the age, I think. I hope.

Pirate Princess said...

Wow...I'm impressed and have a whole new respect for you! LOL

Now that we're moved in with the BF, he's big on family meals. However, my kids have been gone for almost 3 weeks. Can't wait to get them home and start being normal LOL

Cynthia said...

We're big on family dinners as well. It was something that meant a lot to me growing up so I enforce it in our house now. We get some great stories out of our 3 year old at the table. It's hard not to choke on our food over some of the things she says (and she is trying to be so adult so we can't laugh out loud....) Just recently the boys have started feeding themselves and have been able to sit at the table - in their highchairs - and eat at the same time as us. I love it!

Pirate Princess said...

Hey, 2/3...

check out my latest blog. I believe you'll enjoy SITS and you write so well, you would be great as one of their featured bloggers!

Elizabeth said...

LOVE family dinner time. I usually use a table cloth in the dining room, but not the kitchen. Love to use the dining room and the good china...even if it's only fish sticks! (sometimes that's MORE fun!) God Bless, E

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