Gaining three more children made a bigger impact on our evening meals than just more food on the table. We have gained more family time. As a family of four we had a small kitchen table, with just four chairs, which fit perfectly in our little kitchen. We never actually put a table in the dining room, instead we used it as a catch-all, offshoot of the laundry room. Our evening meals were sometimes together as a sit-down family style; but more often than not, we were heading in different directions, grabbing food on the way, or eating a quick bite standing at the counter while chatting. We were well-known at several area restaurants and thought nothing of eating out several times per week.
Seven is considered a big number at restaurants! We were suddenly considered a PARTY. The costs of feeding all these growing bodies at a moderatly priced eatery bordered on ridiculous. Our favorite waitresses would sigh when we walked through the door. Our dining out days had to be scaled down. We moved onto regular sit-down family style meals every night! This wreaked havoc with our teens who were used to eating in front of the television. The grandkids needed stability and a strong family bond.. so we brought back the family dinner.
We tried for eight months to continue to squeeze seven people around our small table (with a leaf in and extra chairs added) in our small kitchen, but were constantly frustrated at the lack of space to move, get items from the refrigerator or pantry without someone having to get our of his/her seat. Finally, we broke down, rearranged some furniture, scrubbed and set up the dining room.
An amazing thing has happened. We have started interacting again. While we have always had a good relationship with our biological children, somewhere between laptops, cellphones and the evening news, we had stopped interacting during meals and only shared the briefest of our days with each other. We had started a “best part/worst part” of your day meal time conversations when the kids were toddlers and it had dwindled down to canned responses each night. Now, we are in the dining room! There are many more of us sitting down and reviewing our days. We can stretch out, breath a little easier and catch up on our days. Activities are being discussed and questions are being asked. Lately, we’ve even been hanging out after dinner chatting about upcoming trips or sharing memories.
Dinner was a big deal to me when I grew up and I missed having it with my family. I didn’t realize how much was missing until we started sitting down, holding hands and praying over our evening meal. This new time together was an amazing gift and I never knew I wanted or needed it. I realized it is a gift from God through the grandchildren. For every time I miss our old life, and every time I sigh over the mounds of laundry, I know there are more gifts waiting to be revealed and treasures to be found in this new adventure.