Let me be quick to say that our kitchen table is not always filled with family Hallmark moments. No, not at all. I won’t talk about all the times our kids make crude noises at the kitchen table, smack their food and say inappropriate things. Or the times we get snippy with each other after a long day’s work and end up eating in complete silence. Or maybe I will tell you all that. Because we aren’t a family that has it all together by any means. We have our own unique issues like every family does. We mess it up royally but sometimes we get it right. Just like you do. And so my goal is to simply share some things we’ve done around our kitchen table that has deepened our family roots. And in turn I hope that maybe these things will spur on some great family moments around other kitchen tables.
I read recently that 60 years ago, the average dinnertime was 90 minutes. Today it is less than 12 minutes.
Our family is working hard to make sure we fall somewhere between a 30-45 minute dinner time together. This means we have to think through homework, activities, work schedules and meal preparation in advance. Sometimes the dirty dinner dishes remain on the table until we get back from Scouts and that drives me nuts but it really is okay. Sometimes my husband comes home early for dinner and then goes back to the church for a meeting. It would be so much easier for him to just stay there and eat afterwards. But he comes home so he can sit at the dinner table and be with his family. I LOVE this about him. Unfortunately many pastors are guilty of neglecting their families for the sake of the church and I praise God that mine is not one of them. My point is that it will take sacrifice to get our families together most nights of the week and sit there for more than 12 minutes. But it’s worth it.
Some families might actually be in culture shock to sit at the dinner table for more than 12 minutes. I read this quote by Julie Kidd this week that absolutely cracked me up, “I don’t want to say we eat out a lot, but I’ve noticed that lately when I call my kids for dinner, they run to the car.” Oh my word. Hilarious!
So if your kids are running to the car when you call for dinner then the first few nights you actually sit together at your kitchen table for more than 12 minutes it might feel strange. But I assure you it will feel good and soon everyone will look forward to it and grow accustomed to it.
I’ve got a dinner table idea to share with you today. It’s a simple idea to incorporate after everyone has finished their food. Now hear me out before you roll your eyes and think we are “that family” who reads out of the Greek and Hebrew and does prayer chants before meal time. Nope. But we do take reading seriously and encourage it in our family. A famous person once said, “Leaders are readers.” Ha! I had to get that in there. Randy has told me that since our first year of marriage and he still says it. Okay, but seriously we happened on this idea of reading after dinner when someone loaned us a biography called “Gifted Hands”. It’s an amazing story about a Doctor named Ben Carson. We all loved this book. And all we did was just read one chapter out of the book after dinner. We took turns reading a chapter each night. Sophie is a young reader so she would only read one page or two and then someone else would read the rest. If we forgot about it the kids would remind us to read out of the Ben Carson book. We didn’t do it every night but when we did it sure was fun. It also provided some really good discussion as a family about lots of different things. So many good books out there. I recently ordered two more books for us to read together after dinner. Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Cory Ten Boom. All the biographies I’ve mentioned are written for kids and the chapters are short and super easy to read. Reading as a family is such a treasure! And doing it at the dinner table is fun.
I know this wasn’t the most innovative dinner table idea but give it a whirl and see how your family responds. Even if you are a big reading family – just at other times in your day – try it at the dinner table and see where your conversation goes afterwards.
More on Table Talks later this week.