Monday, August 13, 2007

This week's subject: Setting a lovely table

Post #1 in the Series: Why take the time?

This week, we'll be at my place for the topic of learning how to set a lovely table. Setting an inviting table for family and guests is one of the easiest ways to bring comfort and beauty to your home.

In today's world of rush, rush, rush, making mealtimes important is vital to creating a sense of home and family. We are all familiar with the statistics that say that kids from families who make eating together a priority do better in life and in their studies. A family's emotional and physical health is supported when the members can gather around a table that says, "Love lives here." The message that a thoughtfully appointed table sends to our family members is, "Someone cared enough to provide me with nourishing food in a nourishing atmosphere."

Not only that, but in today's world of rush, rush, rush, helping our family members slow down to enjoy a meal can contribute to their physical health, as well. How many times have I realized that my family was so much in rush mode that we were bolting down our food! That is a sign to take things in hand and create an atmosphere where people can eat and talk in a more leisurely manner. As you know, hurrying through a meal is bad for the digestion. We must chew our food thoroughly in order for the enzymes in our mouth to help us get the proper nutrition from our food. And, not only that, but food eaten in a hurry is more likely to result in heartburn and other irritations of our alimentary canal. (How's that for an old-fashioned way of saying digestive system?) Most of all, it takes a while for our digestive enzymes to signal to our brains that we are full. If we rush through a meal mindlessly, we will eat more than is necessary. A lovely or homey or otherwise comforting table encourages family members to eat mindfully, rather than to rush.

For an in interesting study, read through the Bible noticing all references to meals, to eating together, to feasts, etc. Both testaments are full of references to this subject. In some cases, the meals are literal ones. In other cases, they are figurative images designed to teach us something.

Knowing how to set a table for different occasions helps us show hospitality to others. Are you comfortable hostessing a tea? A wedding or baby shower? A buffet supper? A baked potato night? Learning how to pull different kinds of parties together and to set a table appropriately for each one will expand the ways you can bring people into your home.

Note that you don't have to have fancy china or linens to set a lovely table. Jesus fed the crowds on a hillside, and he cooked food for his disciples by the side of a "sea".

When we got married, our first eating table was a redwood picnic table with two long redwood benches. We bought this affordable picnic table with the idea of using it inside until we could afford a "real" table and chairs. Our plan was to move it outside and use it for family picnics once we were able to purchase something else. When we inherited some nicer furniture, that is exactly what we did. But, in the meantime, I had lots of fun covering that picnic table with a homey looking cloth and adding some simple flowers for a centerpiece. Our simple picnic table was the setting for many happy meals.

We have already learned from Meredith's posts that there are thrifty ways to make your table look neater and also to acquire pretty serving dishes. In this series, I may refer to a table set with traditional china and silver. I may also show some pictures to inspire us. But don't fret if you can't copy these ideas. Just use what you have in the best way that you can. The heart of hospitality is what counts most.


P.S. I don't know why the link to the Finishing School archive blog isn't working properly. I will work on that. So, by the end of the week, I hope to have the problem up and a week's worth of our former posts up for your convenience.


Lea said...

We used the very same type table when we got married! I loved it so~~

Elizabeth said...

Yes, I miss our old picnic table.
We continued to use it outside for many years, but, somewhere along the way, it bit the dust.

Do you still have yours?