The Dining Room–Is It the Heart of Your Home?

August 25, 2010

Photo by rwfan99

When we sit down at the dining room table, we stop, even if it is for a quick moment, our running hither and yon.  There we sit to eat.  If we live with family and friends, the dining room table can be the place to enjoy food and conversation, debate and share laughter.  It’s a place where our thoughts and feelings may be intimately shared with others and ourselves.

According to Wikipedia,the dining room is “an integral part of a home, often its central or most important feature.”  Is that true for you?  A McDonald’s drive-through is no substitute for time around the table, but substitute it is for many.

With the dining room table no longer used on a daily basis, it takes on other functions.

The Many Uses of the Dining Room and Its Table

Working with clients has enabled me to discover the many ways of how the dining room and its table are used.  Serving as a desk, a shelf for papers, and a table for crafts projects are examples of the most common secondary uses for the dining room table.  I do it myself.  My one-bedroom condo lacks office space.  So, when I need to review a big document or a sheaf of papers, I spread them out on my dining room table and may even leave them there for weeks.  This hinders my fine dining and leaves me juggling my plate on my lap in a kitchen chair.

Photo by apollinia666

The table for some people replaces filing cabinets.  Stacks of magazines, old bills, tax papers, books catalogues and even family geneological data reside there.  Besides collecting dust, these items can prevent anyone from savoring a meal.  If folks find space encough for their plate and drink on a table filled with paper and other artifacts, then the food begins to vie for attention.  After all, a juicy novel, a bill bigger than expected, or a snazzy catalog item can seem more engrossing than a salad with spinach, mushrooms and tomatoes!

Some clients see the dining room itself as a warehouse.  Anything used infrequently may get relegated there.  Some of the reasons given:  “We don’t have a dining room table.”  “These things are difficult to put away.  It’s easier if they just stay here.”  “We eat at our kitchen table.  That works for us!”  Some even have intentions to change the purpose of the room, such as transforming it into a massage studio.  All these reasons seem logical to the person who believes they are true.

A Different Angle–The Hearth

The dining room for me is an extension of the hearth.  Although the fireplace is considered the symbol of the hearth, it can extend to where meals are eaten.  It’s no coincidence that the word “hearth” is close to “heart.”  The places where we cook our meals and eat them are the heart of our home.

Photo by Power_Unit

Yet after a hard day at work coupled with picking up the kids or attending volunteer meetings, cooking can have little appeal.  If we have a family, our kids grow up and begin to have their own activities.  Everyone’s schedules start to differ.  Devising creative menus may seem like the last thing we want to do.  As a result, fast food and deli delights are the likely replacement for hearth-cooked meals.  Food becomes boring but necessary.  It’s more important and attractive to get that project done, go to that meeting, or simply eat in front of the television.

Intimacy–An Integral Component to a Healthy Life 

Aside from the bedroom, when are we intimate?  When do we take time to be personal–with ourselves and those we love?  Our innermost thoughts, feelings, joys and fears need to be aired.  The dining room table is a place where we are obliged to sit and eat and where rich conversations can take place.

Photo by Ryan D. Thomas

Even if you live alone, like I do, I find when I sit at my dining room table, I honor myself and the food I am eating.  I am spending time at my hearth.  Yes, it takes more time to set the table, serve the meal, and eat in a mindful way, but it inspires me to pause and appreciate what I have and how blessed I am.  At the very least, it causes me to savor my food.   

I encourage you to reassess your dining room and its table.  If it’s clear and used on a consistent basis, it can offer a rich opportunity for you to connect with yourself and others.  If it’s cluttered with little or no room to eat, you may be robbing yourself of precious intimacy–an integral component to a healthy life!

One Response to “The Dining Room–Is It the Heart of Your Home?”

  1. favorite recipes Says:

    great post, looking forward to your next, if your on twitter follow me @favoriterecipe , i follow everyone back

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