Daily dinners have been a part of our life for as long as I remember. But just because we are sitting and eating at the table together doesn't mean we are engaged.
We have always been able to see the tv from the table and most the time it has been on in the background. The conversation always starts out nice and begins to lull as soon as something more interesting flickers in the peripheral. At that point, you have to repeat yourself over again cause absolutely no one heard you. Dinner is eaten with little regard to taste and fullness. Eating is just a robotic motion that happens when you have a plate of food in front of you at the table.
Wanting to make dinner a little more special, I looked up different blessings that the boys could read before dinner began. We did this off and on with no real pattern to when and if this would occur.
After we tried the blessings for awhile, I began to turn off the tv during meal time. This would cause a stir in whomever was watching "must see tv". Inevitably, I would turn the tv back on just to keep the peace.
After much soul searching for just the right addition or elimination for this important part of our day, I think I might have found a plan.
Our New Dinner Rhythm (still in the works)...
Before dinner is served, plates are assembled in the kitchen to keep the clutter on the table to a minimum. On special occasions we serve it family style.
At the beginning of dinner, we light a candle for each family member. I am thinking about changing the candles to each of our favorite colors just to make it more special for the kids.
Then, a blessing is chosen from a set of cards I have made and read by a volunteer (usually T Man at this point).
During dinner the tv is off. We eat and talk about our day.
Towards the end of the meal, we have started saying something nice about each of the other family members in turn. This has proven to be harder than expected. At the moment, everything sounds very contrived. I know once we practice a bit more the process will become much easy.
I hope to spice it up a bit by adding in things we are proud of, things we need help with, and secrets we would like to share. I will do this slowly over time and eventually each person will choose what to share on that particular day.
At the end of the meal, each family member blows out his/her candle and takes their own dishes to the sink.
My ultimate goal is to have the entire family take part in the after dinner clean up. Working as a team, I think we might be able to keep the kitchen a bit cleaner.
Daily dinners have become a bit more streamlined and predictable. We are having less discussion on what food will be eaten and in what quantity. We are connecting with each other on a more personal level and enjoying each others' company.
Daily dinners are quickly becoming a time we all look forward to... a time of togetherness and sharing. Hopefully, this will be a tradition my boys take into their own homes one day and share with their families as well.