Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Nourish ~ Words Between Mouthfuls

Welcome to Nourish: 31 Days of Family, Food, and Faith. This is Day 21. To see the rest of the series click here!

You’ve gathered the whole family for a meal— a real, honest, sit-down-in-the-chair-pass-the-potatoes affair. You’ve not had a chance to gather everyone for at least the last two weeks but here you all are and all of a sudden this family of yours which is normally the furthest thing from quiet, can’t think of anything to talk about. You know if you can’t think of something soon bickering or complaining is likely to break out and then all of your efforts toward a real, honest, sit-down-in-the-chair-pass-the-potatoes meal will be ruined. 

You break out the “How was school today?” only to hear a chorus of “fines” in response. If you are like me, you might ask "How everyone like their food?" which, if you are like me is a bad idea because, if you are like me, anything short of a standing ovation is gonna be a disappointment and be sure, there will be no standing ovation, after all, you just got everyone to sit down!

During an average week in our world, we can count on a sit-down-around-the-table family dinner on Tuesday evenings. We may be able to pull off another real meal on an additional night of the week every now and then, but mostly all other meals happen around the kitchen island and often are missing a family member or two or three. For this reason, I don’t like to squander opportunities for family discussions around the table. 

Some of my fondest memories of growing up happened around the table during dinner time and I want the same for my own family. So I’ve accumulated a trick or two to keep dinner conversations positive, productive, memorable…so that our time around the table proves to have been a nourishing one.

Our “go-to” conversation starter is Best Thing/Worst Thing. Everyone is called upon to share the best thing and the worst thing that happened to them throughout the course of the day. It’s always interesting to compare what the adults consider the worst thing with what the six year old shares. 

The responses to this exercise provide a guage on what kind of a day your family members actually had. If the best thing in their day was finding clean underwear in their drawer in the morning, that child might need a little extra TLC before the day ends. If the worst thing that happened to your teenager on a given day is that they didn’t see anything interesting on Instagram, you can assume that their day wasn’t so bad. Best Thing/Worst Thing also goes a long way to helping you know your people. One evening Meg shared that her Best Thing of the day was “Pasta for dinner!" I made a mental note and then an actual note so I’d remember. 

Another useful tool we use from time to time comes to our table from the folks at American Girl. Table Talker cards are the size of business cards, each with a question printed on them. Though brought to us by a company that caters to young girls, the questions are excellent for men, women, boys and girls alike.

Each week the older kids are responsible to find and be ready to discuss 1 or 2 current events. Often the time these events are discussed is during dinner. This is probably my favorite type of conversation. I always enjoy seeing what topics the kids have chosen to talk about. Often my Man and I are familiar with the issue from our news consumption during the day and we can easily participate in the discussion and then expose the younger girls to the issues on their level.

Many other resources exist to aid in the quest for sparkling dinner conversation including this small book from Karol Ladd called Table Talk.

A post called The Family Part of Family Dinner from the blog Dinner: A Love Story {here} discusses how the authors' family handles dinnertime conversation challenges. I like their ideas.

If you are in need of more conversation spark, try this link for a colorful and creative conversation spinner from Real Simple magazine.

I suspect that you won’t need this many resources, though because by the time one or two questions have been asked around the table in our home, the kids are bubbling over with things to share and have to be encouraged to take turns speaking. 

Once they are warmed up, my Man and I have the very best time of all soaking up all that there is to learn about these characters who share our table, our food and our lives.

"...getting dinner on the table often feels like the easy part; it’s the conversing and communicating — the family part of family dinner — that often prove more elusive." ~Andy Ward, Dinner: A Love Story

1 comment:

Becky said...

As always, wonderful post. Thanks for the resources and ideas.

Share button


Related Posts with Thumbnails