Setting the table used to mean placing the forks, knives, and spoons in the exact same place where your grandmother and your grandmother’s grandmother placed theirs. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with tradition, does setting the table today carry the same meaning as it did in past generations?
When your children are small, you prepare the family meal, and then use place mats, your eating utensils and assorted bowls and platters. Kids don’t seem to mind if there are no flowers on the table or crystal water glasses. They seem to enjoy their food with these amenities or without them.
On special occasions, when your in-laws visit, the preacher comes visiting, or your child’s favorite teacher comes for brunch, you try different ways to present a table that is not only laden with the best in culinary delights, but also your very best china, silverware and linen.
In all the different phases of life (single, newlywed, bringing up family, empty nest, retired, or living alone once again) people go through the simple, very elaborate, kind of trendy, and then back to very simple. Of course, time, money, and family ideas and needs are all different, except for one. People eat better when they are treated with charm, dignity, and special little details designed for their comfort and enjoyment. When eating alone, why bother setting the table? You are setting it for a very special guest - you. Your thoughts and ideas are paramount to the conversation, and your mealtime needs to be stress-free and well-appointed. You will feel better for it, your digestion will thank you, and you will leave the table feeling good about yourself. Small children - they learn from our example more than they learn from our words. If we treat family meals as special times, they will learn to feel the same way about sitting down with everyone sharing, caring, and being attentive to each other. Of course, this would be the ideal situation. Family squabbles, fighting, spilling, and other added features will occur during mealtime when you have various ages gathered at the table. Welcome these annoyances, deal with them appropriately and carefully, because the message you convey carries a lot of baggage. It imprints on a child the fear of being careless, and a bother, or it will boost self-image and creativity. How - your child will see that you deal with disruptions in an orderly way, clearing the mess as cheerfully as circumstances permit. They, in turn and maybe not right away, but they will deal with their peers and their elders in mimic of you. How would you like their imitation of you to be projected?
Newlyweds and empty-nestors, you are just beginning a life together or you are returning to having more time for each other. In either case, setting the table a little more elaborately, with a touch of whimsy, and a serving of elegance, will soothe souls, and invite both of you to a time of partaking of food leisurely and with a much higher degree of appreciation for taste, texture, and those other nice little “you really did notice” points. You can savor the food, admire the surroundings, and be a participant in the witty conversation and the warm embrace of sharing time with someone you care about.
If the time should come that you return to eating as a single person again, you have learned the finer points of entertaining. You are no less a guest than if you had invited someone else over to share your meal. Enjoy yourself, relax, and know that a meal is and always will be a time of rejuvenation, and soul-growth.
So bring out the candlesticks, the lacy tableclothsArticle Submission, and the gravy boat and have a meal fit for royalty. Setting the table should be paramount of every meal when possible. Let your table shine - for royalty are about to sit around your table.