The Dining Room Table

Boys are growing into men here in our home, and knees are knocking together under our little kitchen table.  Feet find their way onto feet, and elbows can’t leave well enough alone, so we’re moving.  Not from our home, but out of our little kitchen nook and into the spacious dining room.  The boys have been asking me to serve dinner at our long oak table, with the chandelier like a canopy of sparkle overhead.  But I’ve balked these last few months, knowing it will add more work to my load.  I balked and I crammed and I nagged my way through dinners, ordering, “Stop touching one another, and keep your legs under your chair.”

 

Then last night we visited a friend’s home, and sat down at their new dinner table.  Brand-spankin’, never before used, without one scrape or stain. Long planks of untreated wood set with burlap place-mats and mason jars for water glasses.  Miniature pumpkins toppled from ceremic decorative urns as our centerpiece.  How special to be there with our beloved friends, christening their table with our conversation and laughter.  As my dear friend’s husband jokingly threatened to never have guests over again if we splatter salad dressing, I thought of the generous love required when giving our best.  But we do give our best away to those we prize.  China and chocolates and the dining room table, to those we cherish, value and esteem.

 

And I looked at my children, who are my best, recognizing immediately the way I hold them at arm’s length from the center of my hospitable heart.  Not always, but when it requires greater effort on a day-in-day-out basis, I’m quick to say, “No, and keep your hands to yourself.”

 

But today I’m doing something new – I’m spreading out our holiday favorites on the table cloth of my generous heart.  I’m throwing a christening party on a Tuesday night!  Not because we’re hosting special guests, but because I’m purposing to start treating my most intimate family members like the guests of honor that they are.  Prized in my heart, prized around my table.  Sure there will be more sweeping up rice and polishing off handprints, but we do that for those we love.  It’s part of the gift giving.

 

dinning table

 

Laying out placemats that smell of cedar and cloth napkins will require another load of wash and a hot iron in the morning, but I’m throwing this mid-week celebration, with homework for dessert, just because its time to invite my children to the grown up table.  So I’m heading out to the garden now to gather the last glory-blooms of fall, every single stem, for tomorrow I’ll be pruning rose bushes and hydrangeas all the way down. There’s no temptation to skimp, when pruning is just around the bend.  I’ll give them all as a laid down offering on the dining room table, because I want to do the learning without the painful pruning in my own life.

This Lesson:

 It is time to treat my children as the most valued guests in our home

– guests that do the dishes, but guests just the same.

 

chandelier

 

They are our little people for such a short time.  And we are honored to have their little britches seated round our table for these limited number of years.  And when we send them off, we want to send them off with memories of family dinners, chocolatey desserts, good conversation, and enough elbow room.

 

Join me at my party… though you’ll be loving your family from your dining room table, as I do well loving my family from mine.  But join me, won’t you?  Won’t you?  Though we grow weary from this continual feast… let’s commit to party on!

 

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13 Comments

  1. Wendy,
    I love the way your writing captures a moment in time in such a beautiful way. It makes memories come to life just as they happened! We are going to celebrate our family with your great inspirational ideas!! Your blog blesses me every day, often times bringing tears to my eyes as I am reminded of the purpose God has placed in every Mother’s heart. We get our hands dirty each day shaping the clay of our children’s lives with His guidance as we mold them the way He see it should go!! Thank you for reminders of that purpose!

    Reply
    • Love this thoughtful comment, Natalie. And love you. So happy to have lived this story (and many more) across the table from your lovely heart.

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  2. This is beautiful, Wendy :). It’s so hard to let them grow up–but if we don’t let them, we ‘smother’ them instead of ‘mother’ them. Enjoy your party at the dining room table!

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    • Thanks, Anita. Love your joy-filled perspective each time you stop by.

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  3. Yes! When the inevitable happens and your sons break or stain something, you’ve been given a precious gift. You’ve been given the opportunity to prove that you love your child more than your thing. You’ve been given a chance to show your children that you value relationships more than stuff.

    (I learned this when my own mom grabbed my by the arm, gripped tight enough to hurt, and whispered it frantically in my ear. My two year old had just broken the gravy bowl and his world hung in the balance.)

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    • “his world hung in the balance” Yes! I know that. I remember when my kids knocked over a favorite teapot (had been my mom’s when she was a newlywed) and broke it severely. It’s like the spirit descended and slowed me down. I stood their quietly and sad. And because I didn’t grab and yell they had the chance to feel sad about their mistake and apologize. And we moved on together. There are opportunities to learn and love when we give our best – even when things break. yes!

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  4. Wendy, you make a wonderful point. Why do we save our “best” for our guests and not our families? Our children are our best. Love to hear you are making memories in your home tonight.

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    • Two just came home from school sick and dad called to say his flight’s been delayed. The party has been rain-checked for Thursday! Haha… but the lesson has been learned!

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  5. AMEN! We have made it a point to use the good dishes and table linens for our family dinners to celebrate US. I don’t regret one stain or broken glass (there really weren’t that many). I look at my table with it’s love markings and delight in cherished memories now that two of my children are out of the house.

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  6. I have had so much enjoyment browsing the pages of your site this afternoon, Wendy! Lovely.

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    • HOWEVER DID I MISS THAT? Wish we lived closer to one another. Sure would enjoy a cup of tea after a tour through our garden. Maybe you’ll need to visit me and my patch of earth as I plot out my garden boxes here in Southern California.

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      • NO… It’s on the graphic too! Killing me!

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