Bob Denny: An excellent dining experience


Published: Tuesday, February 25, 2014 at 5:24 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, February 25, 2014 at 5:24 p.m.

Let’s go back 10,000 years. Your ancestors lived out of tents or huts, or maybe in a cave! In order to survive, they lived together in large families, or with small tribes. During the day, they kept busy hunting, foraging, or making arrowheads, clothes, and stuff. In the evening, they gathered around the hearth, for warmth, rest, a meal, and socializing.

In Western civilization, the tradition has survived for millennia, in the form of “dining.” It’s built into our customs, and even into the structure of our homes. When was the table invented, and why?

Obviously, tables were invented to gather people and seat them face to face, for a reason. Don’t most homes have a dining room, or at least a family room, where families can gather at the end of the day for a meal, and to talk about their day, which strengthens relationships?

Or, is this becoming a “leftover” of the past? Are other inventions slowly taking over the old traditions and replacing them? There was the invention of television, followed quickly with the invention of little individual tables called “TV trays,” that made it possible to dine by yourself, in a chair facing the TV instead of your family across the table? The “TV dinner” made it so you didn’t even have to pass the potato salad, or even talk to each other!

When we lose our traditions, what else are we losing? Do we lose some of the family bonding to the fascination of the TV screen and its exciting programs? That can be hard to compete with! Has the TV just moved in and taken over?

I think we may have lost some of the caring and involvement we had when we shared the conversations, the fun, the troubles of the day, and when we had the chance to learn from and appreciate each other. Is it too late to get it back? Of course not! Our dining habits and traditions changed before, without even us trying!

Whoever you are, or whatever group you’re a part of, dining together can be an enjoyable part of your life. How about some ideas to rekindle this fine old tradition?

· Bring out that old table, and dust it off! If you don’t have a dining table, get one. It costs a few bucks at a yard sale, or you can buy a new dining table set.

· Set aside a room. Does your home, apartment, dorm, or whatever, have a dining room? Could you set aside part of a game room or living room? A TV room? Don’t even think about turning on that TV during dinner!

· Talk with your “family,” or whoever you’re living with. “Dining” is more about people than it is about food! Can you set aside a time for a meal? Maybe it’s breakfast, or lunch. Doesn’t matter, as long as you can sit down at the table together. Can you help plan or prepare dinner?

· Make it a habit! Doing it just once won’t work. They say it takes 21 repetitions to make a habit. Try it for a month, or at least a week. Commit to making a little effort!

· Watch for the good results. Notice it when you find yourself opening up a little more, sharing your life with others, and enjoying yourself. Are you talking more with them? Learning something? Smiling more? Appreciating them more?

· Try inviting a guest! How about your neighbor?

· Don’t set your expectations too high. This new venture will likely have a few bumps in the road. Respect and appreciate the folks you’re with, and gently work through conflicts. Listen to what they have to say!

· Keep a positive attitude! Look for the good in everything and everyone. It’s there if you look for it.

Bob Denny has counseled troubled youth and families for 15 years and taught psychology at Florida Gateway College for 10 years. Check out his new book, “Happiness is looking for you!” on the Amazon.com. Comments welcome at bob.denny8@gmail.com.

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