In the United States today, most working adults work longer hours than their parents and grand-parents. Research shows that Americans tend to work longer hours, have questionable work/life balance, and have a tendency to take less vacation time while working nights and weekends. As I listened to a message on stress and time spent, the speaker shared how many hours we spend being accessible by phone, computer, and internet along with playing telephone tag and just plan thinking about our jobs. I’m much older, so I can compare the time in my life in which there were no cell phones, computers, and total access to our current situation. When I began my job as a school social worker visiting homes, I looked up addresses on a map and wrote out how to get there. Today, I ask Siri and, in an instant, I know where to go and how to get there. Now, I love technology, and all the creative, fun things you can do, but when is it enough? When do you take a break and feel okay with it?
As I viewed Facebook (yes, this statement is ironic), my heart took notice of all the different tables that were set for Thanksgiving. Did you notice, too? One friend had created placemats with her children’s hand prints as a decoration. Others chose paper plates, fancy dinner settings, and one table seemed like Colonial Williamsburg. What was evident was how proud everyone was to display their table. From pumpkins to flowers and colors of the fall season, each table said, “I love you!”
We still have a table from my parent’s first years of marriage. My oldest has it in her home. Through the years, your table creates memories.
I think of all the events–birthdays, graduations, showers, holidays, and “just because” events that create shared stories and connection. We’ve had toddler melt downs, prayers, stories shared, and delicious new recipes to savor and remember. Not all table memories are perfect. The reality of this adds to the story–our journey with each other and the willingness to come together again and forgive.
Not only do we eat at our table, but we work, create, share conversations, finish up homework, and most importantly we circle up, uninterrupted, with the attention of everyone focused on the now. One of my favorite memories at the table is Victoria’s wedding day. All of her bridesmaids came to the house and we used the table as a “salon” and getting ready station!
Your table is sufficient and beautiful. Slow down and gather. I remember another research article I read many years ago, and I still hear it quoted today. What was the one thing that most children experienced who felt truly connected and loved by their family? Was it vacations? Gifts? Stuff? No. The common experience was time at the table. Others have expanded on this research to say it does not have to be every meal, every day, but a consistent practice. You don’t have to solve world peace at the table with your children–just listen, love, and connect.
The spirit of the table can be taken other places. Sharing a meal with those who are in nursing homes, hospitals, or supporting a local food bank are all ways we can reach out to others and say “I see you….”
There have been times in which I sat alone at my table. In those times, it’s been a quiet, solitude of prayer or creativity.
I’m so appreciative of those who sat around the table with me this Thanksgiving to express love and joy. I still hear the conversations in my mind, laugh, and realize what a treasure I have in each of you.
I’d love to hear from you! What is your favorite memory around the table?