Friday, August 18, 2006

Dining Tables

A few weeks ago I had an idea. It is one I still am not ready to defend to the death. But it was an interesting thought. What if you decided not to have a kitchen or dining room table in your house? We see all these commercials and hear all the experts talking about "the family table," and eating at least one meal a day together. My objection was the formality of it all. A table takes space and fuss. Couldn't that space and fuss be better applied to other uses, even ones more conducive to fellowship?

I've been looking at my family's house over the past few months, trying to imagine ways of making it more crowd-friendly. Due to several parties for graduations and such, we've developed ways of arranging our kitchen, in particular, to allow people to walk through, stand around talking, and access food. So it wasn't so crazy to imagine that as an everyday set up.

When I mentioned the idea of converting the dining area of my kitchen to extended living space when I get a house, my mom was surprised. She said she had always envisioned me with a nice dining room table with a tablecloth (tablerunner, glass cups, cloth napikins, centerpieces, slipcovers on the chairs...). Ok, so that's undeniable. At my age, and with my life the past several years, though, I'm used to changing my mind.

However, this is all just an idea to consider. I'm sure that, like many ideas, just the mulling over will teach me a number of things about the nature of home and fellowship. In fact, it has already begun. I saw this post by Homeliving Helper in light of the no-dining room home. Go read it. It has some good arguments for the formality of family dining.

She says those are customs families held in the forties and fifties. I smiled because my family had many of the same rules. We're pretty traditional, I guess. My parents both grew up with those rules, and it seemed up to them to maintain proper manners in their family. I wonder why the modern family didn't feel it was their duty to keep up tradition as well?

Whether you have a table or not, and whether you excuse yourself from said table, there are some objectives I need to remember. My home is my primary ministry. If I am not hearing my family, keeping up with their lives, and sharing mine with them, I have no way of knowing when they need help or prayer, or even what to buy as an appropriate birthday present. A home needs to be safe. The phrase in Titus 2 translated "keeper at home" means literally "guard of the dwelling." Why must it be guarded? Look around at our world. What happens to a family when their home is unguarded? So perhaps formality protects that sacred fellowship. On the other hand, as Christians, we are commanded to be hospitable. If our house isn't ready to welcome guests, we need to make it ready so that we are able to obey the command. When friends come over, their visit should be about them, and they should be comfortable. Oh - and snacks, especially chocolate, should be available to eat all through the day - even standing up.

To God be all glory.

2 comments:

Me said...

Hey Longbourn,

Interesting stuff. When I read it I thought, "Wow... how do you think of these things? =)" But, good points... snacks are good, especially if you're a guy.

If you don't have a dinner table, you can still have manners, and rules, can't you? I like the idea.
It sounds fun.

Good thoughts...

- Yes, this time, it's me. =)

Lacey said...

Okay, so I can speak from experience here...our "dining table" for the first year of our marriage was a plywood plank perched atop cinder blocks (a mere 12" from the floor) which my husband, in his bachelor days, had painted in a red and cream geometric design. This monstrosity took up most of the floor space in our dining room and really served as nothing more than a clutter catch-all. There were many times that it was *quite* inconvenient not having a traditional table and chairs, and it has been such a relief to finally get my dining set moved in from Missouri. We've had it in place for 2-3 months now, and I'm still thankful every day! :)