Saturday, June 6, 2009

Table Manners

I talked on the phone to my sister today, and she told me about a book she is reading by Nancy Campbell. She said it's about the family meal table, and Bible verses that support eating a nice meal together every day. She was wondering what I thought about that. I said that I thought it made sense for families who were running every which way during the day. When the kids are at school and the parents are at work, when else can they all be together to connect and talk? But in our case, I'm with my children and often my husband all day long. Sometimes we eat one or two meals together in a day, but not necessarily the same food. Sometimes, we don't eat together at all. Once in a while, we'll take the extra time to prepare a really nice meal, but usually we eat pretty simply.

So, tonight I was thinking about that while we ate dinner. D had a "date" with his brother- they talk on the phone and play a computer game together. I made an easy dinner for myself and the girls. We ate chowmein noodles with celery sauteed in butter. The girls had been snacking on blueberries before dinner and those carried over to the meal. E stood up in her chair and kept getting down to go see what D was doing. L threw her food all over the floor and E cheered her on. E used her fork part of the time, but then decided she was a baby like L and started using her fingers. We didn't do a family devotion, use nice dishes or a white table cloth, and I didn't slave over the stove for an hour to prepare the meal.

Do I think God was disappointed? No. Not at all. We prayed before our meal. While we ate, E and I talked about the storm last night, and how God sends the rain to water the plants. She put her noodles in her water glass. Some would call that bad manners, but I call it a science experiment. I asked her if the noodles were getting squishy, and she checked them and they were. Then she asked me to tie a noodle around her finger like a ring, so I did. She wanted me to show her how to tie, and then she practiced tying a knot with a noodle around her fork.

I do value manners and it is nice to have a nice family dinner now and then. But I think God is more interested in our hearts than the appearance of our table.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I read this aloud to my husband because that is EXACTLY how we see things. We spend so much time together all day (hubby works from home, as do I when I do work, and we unschool the kids) and eat what we are hungry for when we are hungry. Occasionally that means ogether but just as often that means one of the kids making a meal (my oldest loves to bake and cook and often makes big elaborate meals for her siblings.) Yours are younger than mine (mine are 11, 9, and 7) and it is wonderful to see this continue as they grow older. Because when we do cook or bake we do it together all three kids are proficient at making meals and using recipes (and more often than not opt for designing their own recipes or get out ethnic cookbooks to work from.) And playing with your food is one of our favorite ways of doing science experiments. We have talked about manners and where different ones came from and which are outdated and which are still wise. We spend a separate time together as a family each day reading through God's word--as we have explained to the kids, we prefer our family gatherings to be focused on Him rather than food. Note--when they were smaller we didn't do more than a five minute prayer time daily, sometimes with Daddy, sometimes without. Now that they are older we are more focused and deliberate about it--we are currently reading straight through in a year. Will we next year? I don't know--we will see where God leads us.