Thursday, February 01, 2007

The dinner hour

"The family had waited dinner. They enjoyed having everybody together at a meal. When Jane and Sherwood burst into the living room, they were all sitting around just as if it were a party, waiting for their coming." ~Grace Livingston Hill, Happiness Hill

A good portion of my time consists on the dinner hour. Planning the meal, shopping for the meal, cooking the meal, serving the meal, and cleaning up after the meal. Our routine for the dinner hour usually includes daddy coming right in from work; the meal being prepared, table set, and all we need is him. Our family "waits dinner" for my husband.

This is not always an easy thing to do. It would be much easier to feed the children earlier, and have a "quieter" dinner with just my husband and I. Or perhaps it would be easier to just not cook and order take out, or even just throw some pre-packaged stuff in the microwave to make clean up time shorter.

But, alas, this is not the case with our family. The easy way is not often the best way.

All in all, I enjoy this time of sitting together at the table: praying together, talking together, eating together, being together. (Above the noise of the "how many more bites?...and the correcting of manners...)

But sometimes it does get tiring; for the preparation, serving and clean up take a considerable amount of time. And if my husband is a little late, then we still try to "wait dinner".

The above quote from Grace Livingston Hill reminds me that it is and can be an exciting thing to "wait dinner" for my husband. This quote reminds me that this family truly enjoyed having everyone at the table, that it was a privilege, and even like a party!

I want this to be the case with my own family. Often, I get so bogged down with the "interruptions" of preparing dinner: the baby hanging on my leg while I cook, the disagreements to break up while cutting vegetables, the interruption of needing help with schoolwork, that the service becomes a chore rather than a joy.

So I want my husband to feel he is coming home to dinner because we can't start without him--we need him that much! Not the "glad you're home so we can eat"--kind of feeling. (Which I am guilty of!)

And shouldn't he deserve it? I believe he does. Our conversation last night proves it:

Me: I'll do the dishes, if you bathe the kids.
(He or my oldest daughter usually does the kitchen clean up, but my daughter was not there last night.)

Him: I'll do both.

Me: No you won't, I'll do the dishes.

Later--when the little ones were in bed:

Me: You'd better stop doing those dishes...

Him: Ok.

Me: I'll do the rest, ok?

Him: Ok.

Me: I mean it!!

And (much to my delight), like the man that he is, he finished what he had started.

Yes! He's that good!!

So, I want to make my home a haven for my husband. The dinner hour is just one of the many ways to do that. I want him to know that I am counting down the minutes until he gets home, not because I can't wait to hand the baby off to him, but because we are truly waiting dinner for him--we can't do it without him.

"When I hear his key in the lock at night my heart starts to beat faster. I'm just so happy he's coming home. We have so much fun." Anne Bancroft, of her husband the director Mel Brooks


Kendra said...

What a sweet post. I can relate to everything that you've said here. Baby on my leg, disruptions to deal with, and joy at the arrival of my husband. My children are so young, that they all still ask me "How many more bites?" But, I do hope that these dinners together will make for happy memories of their childhood, as I'm sure that they are for your little ones.
Thanks for the encouragement to continue on!

Elise said...

What a fun post!
We, too, wait dinner for Daddy. And it is so worth it!
We've had children long enough now that we don't even try to have an adult conversation - we know that can be saved for later. It is just time to giggle, tell, and sometimes serious discussions about something we need to work on as a family. But always together.
He sounds like a keeper, of course! Mine bathed the kids tonight while I did the dishes - well, he sat on the toilet lid while the baby splashed around, but still! Cuts 20 minutes off the bedtime routine! :)
Great post, Andrea!

L.L. Barkat said...

What a lovely thing to do. Part of what I like to call "grace at the table."

Curiosity question.... what time does he usually get home?

Al Hsu said...

My wife and I alternate making dinner because of different days' schedules. On days that she makes dinner, I tell her, "You made dinner, so I do dishes." On days that I make dinner, I say, "You ate dinner, so I do dishes."

Mrs. S said...

I am really glad I found your site! Thank you for this wonderful reminder. It was just yesterday that we were waiting on my husband for dinner. The baby was getting cranky and I was feeling tired (and hungry!). I will try to remember this post at times like these!!

bluemountainmama said...

i grew up with family dinner time like that. it's unfortunately a lost tradition for glad you are preserving it and keeping it sacred. a reminder to slow down and savor....

Andrea said...

His usual time is around 6:30...

Al Hsu--sounds like a good plan to me!

Mrs. S--always nice to see new readers!! :)

Anna said...

This was wonderful and a great reminder of why you wait for Daddy. We also do that here. The other thing we do here is give him the biggest piece of chicken! :)

Have a great weekend Andrea!

Christine said...

I love this post! We wait dinner too and it's so wonderful to be all together. My kids will have hundreds and thousands of family meals to remember and that's worth all the work!!

Wendy said...

Great post! We do the same thing. Dinner is at 6:00 and if he is going to be late, he will call. You painted the pefect picture of how it is to wait w/little ones...somedays it is so hard and they think they are starving! It is SO worth it though! I didn't grow up eating meals together and what a blessing it has been to do that now and make memories for my kids!

Katherine@Raising Five said...

You hit one of my soapboxes (again, what's up with that?). I admit I throw in a few "prepared" meals (frozen ravioli is one) that keep prep and cleanup time down. It really doesn't matter so much what you eat - it's that you make a point to do it together, day in and day out. I also bathe kids at other times of day so we aren't so rushed afterwards (unless there's ravioli in the hair, of course!).