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Setting the Table

Growing up with seven brothers, a pretty table was only for special occasions so it was a novelty to pull out the placemats and candles for every meal when Stuart and I were first married. Then we had children. Getting dinner on the table became an accomplishment unto itself and the placemats went by the wayside. Spilled milk and sippy cups took their place. Pans went straight from stove to table between the milk jug and ketchup bottle. I didn't mind. We were eating.


But we're well past the sippy cup stage and meal time has remained akin to feeding animals at the zoo and I've felt the need to encourage manners. It's hard to do that when the table looks like a cafeteria so we've made a few changes.

Milk goes from plastic to pitcher. Condiments are served in little glass bowls and the meal is ladled into serving dishes. It feels less like a commercial when the table is word free. Cream looks like art in glass. Much better than in its blue cardboard container with a nutritional label on its hind end. I still don't have time to set the table but the children do and now they know how to do it well and they like looking at the work of their hands when they are finished.

Sometimes they even break out the camera to record their handiwork.
After some coaxing, the children are remembering to put their napkins in their laps. Our beautiful table is making them think about manners. We are enjoying a little more conversation and a little less foolish noise. Only a little, but enough to make this extra effort worthwhile.


Kim said…
Boy, this day seems a long way off for me but it's nice to know it'll come in time.
ValleyGirl said…
Beautiful. The table and the lesson.
I didn't do this as a child, but when I was older my mom began serving every meal with the table set with cloth napkins, placemats, and serving dishes. Nothing fancy, just simple cotton and everyday dishes, but it made it feel special for every meal.

Since the beginning of my marriage I have set the table this way, and the kids don't think anything of it. Of course, I only have TWO! Trevor is actually the one who complains a but, since he can't get past the inefficiency of putting the cooked food in clean dishes instead of just leaving it in the pots! He just thinks it's more dishes to wash, which is true, but there is something nice about a table that has been set with some thoughfulness and planning.

It's so true about how the kids behave at a nicely set table. Just a little but of formality goes a long way towards checking the noise, inappropriate singing, etc that children love to incorporate into mealtimes!

mommasmurf said…
It's lovely! We are still in the sippy cup stage but maybe someday...
Oh girl that is so beautiful.
Much love,
Faith said…
I love it! :) You always inspire me ... and make me look forward to the various future stages of parenthood. :)
Simply Stork said…
what wonderful make the dinner table a place you want to gather :o)

the dinner table is a 'time' most families have lost together...are we really that busy?

Sara Carmichael said…
Ah! So THAT'S why it's important to set the table and transfer food from pot to dish. Manners. Wow, what a light turn-on. I can see how teaching manners would be easier if the surroundings reflected proprietaries.

Alas, I'm still at the spilt-milk and sippy-cup stage! :) But I look forward to when they can help me set the table and make it a peice of artwork!!
Christine said…
Ahhh, is there life after sippy cups??? Your table (and your heart for your family) are wonderful!

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