Raise your hand if you’ve ever been married. Keep it up if you received some beautiful dinnerware as a wedding gift that has never seen an actual dinner table.
Wow, that’s a lot of hands.
We are proud of our fancy china. We display it up on a shelf or in a cabinet specially made for such things. Most of us intend to use it someday, we’re just waiting for the right occasion. Judging by how infrequently we use the stuff, apparently we’re waiting for the Pope or the President or Peyton Manning to call us up and say, “Hey, I was gonna be in the neighborhood. Mind if I stop over for dinner?”
It’s clear that our bar for “special occasions” is set pretty high.
But what if…
What if you pulled out the good stuff on some random…Wednesday? What if you set the table with the fancy china and a luxurious fabric tablecloth? What if you turned the lights down low and lit a few candles? What if you turned on some jazz or classical music? What if you served drinks in wine glasses — even if the menu was only macaroni and cheese and milk?
What this does is serve as an important symbol that any time you spend sharing a meal with people you love — whether it’s your spouse, best friend, or family — is indeed a special occasion. More than that, it’s blessed. Holy, even.
In our frantic lives, meal time increasingly becomes just another thing to check off the list between meetings and soccer practice. And it’s your family that pays the price.
When you get to the end of your life, and you’re sharing favorite memories with loved ones, the Disneyworld vacation or the trip to the Grand Canyon will get mentioned, but most of the time will be spent recounting those simple moments around the dinner table. Traditions. Stories. Memories.
“Remember that time when…?”
“Remember how you used to…?”
“Remember that one story you always told…?”
I’ve been sharing this idea of having more “fancy” dinners in my recent speaking programs. The other day, I got an email from an audience member who decide to give it a try. Here’s her account of how it went:
I just wanted to write and say thanks for sharing your ideas. My husband and I have 5 kids ranging in age from 15-1/2 to 2-1/2. We decided to have a candle light dinner with the kids — it was so much fun! We broke out the good dishes and silverware, drank our milk in wine glasses, etc. The oldest two were really confused and the 8-year-old said nothing but her expression of “Where are our real parents?” was enough to tickle my funny bone. As we were setting the table, and they were noticing this was no ordinary Sunday night dinner, they were asking, “Did we win the lottery? Are you having another baby?” and lots of other hilarious questions. It was priceless…
Thanks again for inspiring us to LIVE!!!
Cindy and Pete Payne and kids
This is a moment — a memory — that you could create this very evening. Easy.
But you have to be willing to give the good china a change of scenery. I know that the good stuff is expensive and hard — impossible sometimes — to replace. You don’t want a plate to get chipped or broken. If you’re going to risk doing damage, you want to make sure it’s a worthy occasion.
But just for a moment, think of someone you love who’s passed away.
Wouldn’t you do just about anything to have one more dinner with that person?
Now tell me that having dinner on a Wednesday with someone you love isn’t a special occasion.
Andrea Manzer says
I attended a conference on March 11th where I had the opportunity to hear Jason speak about family dinners. One of the suggestions to make it memorable was to have spaghetti with no plates….well, we did this just a few days later and the results were awsome! Our 6 children were shocked, disgusted, enchanted and completely suprised. We laughed all through dinner while we chased meatballs around the table and tore pieces from the unsliced Italian bread. For the rest of the night we told stories and sang silly songs. We as a family decided this is the new standard for spaghetti, even if we have company. Thanks for the great idea!
You guys totally rock. You don’t know how many people look at me like I have lobsters coming out of my ears when I suggest this. Kudos to you for giving it a whirl. I can imagine the scene in my head and it must have been a fun time!
Using the fancy china is a great idea…for our family. Won’t invite the neighbors though. I know better from experience. They always break my stuff so when they come over, they get the crappy plates and glasses. Lol.
Good thinking, Shari :)
Kristie Ryan says
My boyfriend and I do this sometimes. Though we don’t have the fancy china, we will light candles and sit at the table with a glass of wine to go with our dinner. We love to cook and eat good food, but mostly we like to share in it together. I hope that we always take the time out to practice this concept :)
Sounds like a great tradition to keep going, Kristie. It might be tempting to let it slide as the years go by, but it’s worth making it a regular routine!
Just to show how little I pay attention to sports, I had to go to Wikipedia to find out who Peyton Manning is.
And I nearly always drink my root beer in a wine glass.
I find that drinking root beer in a wine glass allows you to experience the full bouquet and unique notes of the beverage.
Or something :)
Neil Neumeyer says
Kim and Jason,
I discovered you just today — and have probably spent the last couple hours surfing around your site. It’s like you’ve written all of the exact things that I think! (Even though we only have two offspring, my wife says that she has three kids … and I don’t disagree with her.)
But I finally had to write after reading this post. Two years ago, our ninth wedding anniversary fell on a Wednesday. In the middle of summer. We have two young sons, I was laid off from my job and we had no plans to go out.
But I thought, if we don’t use the fancy china and eat in the dining room tonight, when will we? If we’re waiting for a special occassion, this is gonna be it!
So when my wife got home from work — the blinds were drawn, all the candles were lit and the table looked like a million bucks. Then she looked around, sniffed and wondered where the food was.
“Ding dong.” Pizza delivery! But since her favorite is Pizza Hut and I like Papa John’s … I splurged and ordered one of each! We wondered what Grandma would think if she knew we were eating pizza from a box on her fine china, but I like to think she’d understand. Breaking those unwritten rules made the whole evening really special and memorable for all of us.
Now whenever our neighbors see a pizza delivery car at our house … they look for the second one to show up, too!
Thirty-five going on 12,
Neil, you rock. What a magnificent example of all that we talk about here! Thanks for sharing your fancy dinner story. I hope you don’t mind, but I plan to blog about it in the next few weeks — your example needs to be shared!
I’ve never thought of the idea of ordering from two different pizza places before, although a few years ago, Kim and I took a fast food grab bag run, where we got our favorite things from a bunch of different places (beef sandwich from Arby’s, a taco from Taco Bell, fries from McDonald’s..) and went to have lunch at a park.
Thanks for stopping by and saying hi. I look forward to hearing from you again!