With the holidays approaching, thoughts of family and friends dance in my head. It also brings to mind the gathering around our dining table for feast and fanciful conversation.
That’s right . . . the dining table. You know that thing that sits in the other room and collects dust. Don’t worry, Tedd and I are just as guilty as everyone else. We too, all too often, belly up to the kitchen counter to eat dinner rather than exuding the effort to set the dining table. I know this is hard to imagine, but alas it is true, life at the Trabert home is sometimes not at all that glamorous. However, it is the table, not the kitchen counter or worse yet the couch, that is a symbol of unity and should be used as such.
A table, whether it be in the dining-room, office, conference room or restaurant, brings people together to share moments in time with one-another, be it friend or even sometimes foe. Sitting at the table, family, friends, business associates or even new acquaintances all share their stories, laugh, cry, conduct business or engage in debate – there seems to be a lot of that lately – all with the purpose of spending time with one another. Battles have been won or lost all by simply sitting at this horizontal object with four legs and engaging in meaningful conversation.
The dining table, more specifically, has brought families together in time of daily meal or feast for generations and has been the focal point of the home, representing the family as a unit, a whole. There is no other piece of furniture that holds such memory, history and togetherness than that of the dinner table. An item that passed down to future generations with all its nicks, scratches and stains, as a representation of cherished moments spent with family and friends. Even the dark, thick, heavy and polished appearance most dining-tables take on embodies the solid and ever-lasting relationship and warm embrace that of family and friends.
Today we live in such a mobile and high-speed society that it seems we rarely take the time to sit at a table and appreciate each other in conversation. The few times we actually slow down enough to take a moment to sit at the table, people are drawn to their phone instead of each other. You know who you are – those of you that text, check to see how many “likes” your posts receive, take pictures or the biggest sin of all – actually take a call at the table.
One of the most frequent questions I get during my Art of the Table presentations, “what is the rule for cell phones as the table?” The obvious answer is – there should be no cell phones at the table! When you are with guests and eating at a table, it is less about the consumption of food and more about the conversation with others that is important.
When you are on your phone at the table, you potentially send a message to the people around you that you find them boring or not worthy of your time. I know . . . I know . . . we all have important things come up and therefore must be tethered to this electronic shackle. However, if you must have your phone accessible at the table, perhaps to check on your kids or you are expecting an important business call, let the other guests and/or hosts know and apologize in advance. If a call or text comes through, excuse yourself from the table, take the call and then promptly return – don’t linger too long and leave people without your winning personality.
I say all this knowing that with time table-manners and protocol must evolve. So, it is not to say that cell phones will never properly take a place at a table – who knows – one day we might all be having dinners with virtual holograms. However, this holiday season I challenge you to PUT THE CELL PHONES AWAY!! Take your pictures, update your status, wish all your friends holiday cheer all before you sit down at the table. Try to put your cell down, resisting its power to draw you to it, and be present in the moment. Holidays and shared time with families and friends, all together at the table, are so far and few between, so why not enjoy them while you can and have memories that last much longer than that of a snapchat post!