Saturday, July 09, 2005

The Evening Meal

"There is no spectacle on earth more appealing than that of a beautiful woman in the act of cooking dinner for someone she loves" Thomas Wolfe

Dinner should be a feast in our homes. A time of coming together after a day's separation. An act of joy that lends itself to an air of festivity that permeates the ambiance surrounding our tables. If we throw together a meal of easy Mac, eat it around the television set, and throw the dishes into the dish washer we have done our family a huge disservice. They deserve so much more!

Of all the areas we could be lazy in this is the one I would avoid because it is of great importance. So, a few rules to live by when preparing the table, serving the meal and enjoying the evening.

1. No Paper! Not plates not even napkins. Clothes napkins can be expensive and stains do not seem to easily remove from them. I bought several sets of finger towels. They are much cheaper, stains come out easily and you don't have to iron them. They work much better when we have small children who are likely to make a big mess out of the napkin.

2. Use the nice dishes. Who could possibly come to dinner that is more important than your own family.

3. Presentation of the food is important. Don't set the food on the table in the pan it was cooked in. Serve it in a serving bowl. Don't leave the gallon jug of milk setting on the table.

4. Set a time for dinner and expect that everyone will be at the table ready to enjoy a meal. Expect them to be clean. Clean hands, clean faces, hair combed and if needed even a clean shirt. I have always wanted to have one dinner a week that we actually dress for but so far I have not done it.

5. Encourage and use table manners. Dinner is more pleasant when the person sitting across from you is not chewing with his mouth open.

6. Talk! Make eye contact! Encourage everyone to share about their day. What did they like, what did they do that they enjoyed the most. What was something they learned about? It should take more than five minutes to eat this meal. It should take at least an hour. Make it a goal but expect that it will take some time to make that happen.

7. When dinner is over everyone should help clean up and conversation should continue. Don't allow individuals to run off to the rooms and shut the door. After clean up, games can be played, books can be read out loud, and yes you could even watch TV together if you must. Just be together!