The DINNER Table
In The Beginning
There is a subject near and dear to my heart, the Dinner Table. Growing up as a kid and teen in my parents house, there was a lot of commotion and activity. My Dad was in the Navy and on deployment most of the time while my brothers and I all had our own friends/ activities. While there was a lot of moving parts and places to be there was one main stay...the Dinner Table.
No cell phones, tablets, or even TV just the table, four chairs, dinner, and us. It was nothing I ever took note of or really gave much thought to back then. It was just dinner. Each night somewhere between 630 and 730 we ate dinner, together, around a table. I never knew it would be something that had such an impact on me or society till years later as an adult. That simple act of, without thinking, pulling out our chairs and sitting down to eat a meal together. Friends would come over and join us and, as I look back on it, it was an incredible experience. To the total disbelief of people today there was no technology or social media to consume our entire being. We actually talked to one another by spoken words directly to each other's ears, no phones, or texts. I know, take a minute to let this sink in. It is as foreign and archaic a concept as smoke signals, but it really happened.
Sitting here writing this I realize there was actually so much more to dinner. We all helped make the meal and cooked together based on age and capabilities. Then the table was actually set to eat with silverware, napkins, drinks, and appropriate condiments. Right?! I can just see the bewilderment on your face. Regardless of who was in the house, everyone took part in this ancient ritual. I keep waiting for it to show up in my kids history books next to hieroglyphics and the invention of the light bulb. This time honored tradition has gone by the wayside in exchange for eating on the go and turning kitchens into flashy show pieces, something to display but never use. Well...maybe for wine and cheese or for the extensive amount of outlets to charge our additional technology.
I write all of this as a call to action, a challenge if I may...which i will. Take one night a week to start for a month and recreate this historical act. Your kids may even get extra credit from their history teacher. Set one night aside, that's four days on a month (out of 30 come on now), to try this. The steps are simple:
The Four Week Dinner Challenge!
- Pick and schedule the day (send to every ones phones, include friends).
- Choose a fun and simple recipe that the entirety of your dwelling can take part in.
- Phones and tech are put away, kill the internet if needed for the duration of this historical reenactment. Pretend its the 90s (important step, play period music to get an accurate feel for the time).
- Prepare and cook the meal together, that means everyone! Chopping, application of heat to food, plating, the works. Everyone in the kitchen area during this step takes part.
- Set an actual table with silverware (forks, spoons, knives), napkins, glasses, and plates. Put some folded towels on the tables. This is where you will put the food on the table. Take a deep breath, this isn't as bizarre as it seems.
- Have everyone come sit together at the same time, no stragglers. It doesn't work without the entire dwelling cohabitants present, including friends.
- Pass the the food around the table (everyone take some then pass it along). This enables communication from mouth to ear with no devices in-between. Its going to sound weird at first, but you'll see it's actually pretty amazing.
- Once everyone has their respective plates full, begin to eat together. Do not be alarmed if you here odd sounds like "mmmmm" or laughter not associated with cat videos on YouTube. It actually happens in the wild as well.
- Talk...to each other about each other. You'll find there is so much to learn about a person without reading it on social media.
- No one leaves the table till everyone is finished. This is a equally critical and difficult step. There will be tech withdrawals by some. Support them and make sure to include them in order to calm the anxiety.
- When the dinner is complete, clear the table of everything together. Put things away and get everything cleaned up. This is normally a one person job, but so much faster as a dwelling.
- Now everyone can have their tech back. They will undoubtedly want to frantically post that they are alive and survived this ritualistic experiment.
The Shocking Results
You will notice something else...they will post group selfies and laugh at this together. Results may vary and each will have a different experience. The biggest impact after completing the four week challenge will be be the transformation from dwelling mates to family. You will notice increased verbal communication and smiling without filters and tech. You may even find this becomes a regular experience and you invite others to join in.
So I challenge you to give it a try, commit and start the challenge. Tell us how it goes and send us pictures. We want to be a part of this social experiment. The Dinner Table is a historical cornerstone of people becoming families. From the KA family to yours. We can't wait to see your results.
Written By: Mark Conway
Edited By: Vanessa Lane