The Tradition of a Table

Growing up, I ate dinner with my family every night around the kitchen table—the same one that still sits in the kitchen of my parents’ house today. Each Sunday after church, we ate a home-cooked Sunday dinner at my grandparents’ house (dinner = lunch for any non-Southern readers out there). Our family of four plus my grandparents sitting around a long table passing around southern style vegetables and pot roast. I have wonderful memories of those meals and conversations.

As a single adult, I don’t often sit at the table to eat. Sometimes I do, but I’m usually accompanied by a book or a laptop. Occasionally, I have friends over for dinner but not as often as I should. This weekend was a great reminder of why I should make the effort more often.

We were celebrating the birthday of one of my best friends this weekend, so I invited my friend C and her younger sister over for supper at my house on Saturday night. I planned an entire menu—a home-cooked meal of crab cakes, prosciutto-wrapped asparagus, romaine salad with mandarin oranges and blueberries, rolls and a pie for dessert. It was so much fun to prepare a meal for my friends!

The table in my dining room (shown above) belonged to my grandmother—the same table where my dad ate dinner growing up, where I ate countless Thanksgiving dinners as a child, and where my mom and dad awkwardly sat as a dating couple while my mom attempted to make an extra-large hamburger disappear into her nervous stomach. Before my friends came over on Saturday, I set my beloved table with care. I lit candles; I used the best plates, silverware and glasses. I wanted to create a special ambiance for them.

C’s younger sister, B, is a freshman in college. Now that I have a home of my own, it’s easy to forget those days of dorms and cafeteria food. B was so excited to enjoy a real meal at a real table. When she texted her friends back on campus to tell them everything about the meal, I realized that my simple dinner was a big deal to her.

And I remembered those days in college when I lived on Captain Crunch cereal and rice with soy sauce. I remembered those days when I could not even imagine cooking a meal for myself, much less inviting people over for dinner. When I saw how much it meant to B, I made a decision. I will not let that dining room table continue to remain empty 95% of the time.

I want to carry on the tradition of my grandmother’s dining room table—a table where you come as you are, where you will feel loved, where you will laugh and eat until you’re stuffed. A table where, if you don’t finish everything on your plate, someone will surely ask, “What’s wrong? Are you in love?”—just like my grandmother asked me every single time I left anything uneaten on my plate.

What were some of your childhood mealtime traditions?


Filed under Community, Family, Friendship, Nashville

10 responses to “The Tradition of a Table

  1. What a lovely post! My mom wasn’t much of a cook, so I didn’t have a lot of mealtime traditions growing up. I have more than made up for that as an adult. In our transition to a new church, we’ve been attempting to have new and old friends over for Sunday lunch a few times monthly. Our busy schedule has resulted in fewer invites issued than we would like, but our girls LOVE hosting people for a meal or a party. So we’ll keep trying…

  2. I love this post too! My best friend’s family in high school had a ‘Sunday Night Dinner’ tradition with a few families and I always loved that idea. Our family wasn’t a part of that particular group but I always envisioned the same thing for my family when I ‘grew up.’ The tradition created such a great ‘family dynamic’ though no one was related by blood. Thanks for the reminder of this! Maybe we can start one 😉

  3. hilarybarnett

    This is great! My dining room table sits very lonely much too often as well. I’m excited to change that this year, and excited to sit at your table soon too! Love you!

  4. Susan

    These are beautifully written memories that warm my heart! I wish I lived closer so we could enjoy more meals around the table together. Imagining the taste of those “taters” with gravy….mmmm. 🙂 Love you!

    • I love you, Sis! Thanks for commenting on my blog! I wish we lived closer to each other, also. But I’m so thankful for the times we do get to spend together as a family.

  5. Allison! What a great reminder!!! I am not usually comfortable fixing big meals for guests, but I do LOVE having people over. The last time we cooked for someone, I remember thinking how much I THOUGHT and PRAYED FOR the people I was having over, just because planning and cooking inherently took time. I so looked forward to having them over and listening to what was going on in their lives because they had been top of mind for the whole day.

    After college, Don and I also started a “Sunday Night Dinner” tradition with our graduated friends just entering the “real world.” And now, I think this post has re-inspired us to do it again, probably with neighbor friends. Thanks, again! 🙂

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