I guess our dining table is more than 100 years old. How many meals families have eaten around it, and how many celebrations they shared, I’ll never know.
The wood is old and worn, and the way it feels under my hands satisfies my sensual self. I know my mother, who loves tablecloths, would want to cover it in fabric. I prefer to see the wood, and to connect with the history of this antique piece of furniture.
In my home, and in my heart, I consider the dining table to be a sacred space designed for flowers, candles and meals made with love.
It’s also a place we can gather, at the end of the school day, with a cup of tea while we chat and catch up.
Indeed, the dining table is a ceremonial space, not just for birthdays or Christmas, but for every meal. As with other ceremonies, I light a beeswax or plant-based candle, play music, and express gratitude. Doing this changes a meal from being a source of fuel to something sacrosanct. It takes little extra time, but it does take a change of attitude to bring consciousness to each meal.
This morning as we sat together, enjoying breakfast in each other’s company, we talked of ethics and philosophy; about fate, free will and determinism. Conversation included past lives and dreams. Taking time in our busy lives, to ‘break bread’ with our loved ones, is one of the most important rituals we can have as a family. It slows us down. It encourages us to take notice. It says ‘I’m showing up for me, and I’m showing up for you’.
As a family, there can’t be many topics we’ve not discussed in one form or another over the years. What I truly value about a dining table is that each person gets to face another. There can be real heart-to-heart connections, even when you eat in silence. It brings a family together, and when we recognise each meal as a gift, a celebration, and the opportunity to commune with our loved ones, the dining table takes on hallowed significance. Indeed, for me, it is one of the most important pieces of furniture in our home.
From when my daughters were born, they joined as at the dining table; long before they ate solid foods. They grew up learning the ways of this family, and what values we held. Gratitude for our food was as much a part of a meal as was the eating.
Our prayer was:
Earth which gives us this food
Sun which makes it ripe and good
Dear Earth, Dear Sun, by you we live
Our loving thanks to you we give.
In more recent times, we’ve included another prayer of gratitude.
Thank you for the food before us
Thank you for the family (and friends) beside us
Thank you for the love around us
Yesterday I was writing a scene in my novel, Behind Closed Doors, whereby the family gathered to share a meal. I felt right at home around that old farmhouse kitchen table, listening to the laughter, enjoying the meal. I hope that my passion for such a daily ritual is reflected in the way the characters share their stories. How different an experience to share our days in this way than eating on the run, or standing at the kitchen counter because you don’t have time to eat. Don’t you think?
Tell me about your dining table? What family rituals do you have around meal times?
Love, Veronika xxx
PS Do sign up to my mailing list if you wish to be notified of when Love From My Kitchen (my next recipe book) is published.