Gathering Around The Supper Table

Listening to a Sky News report on the declining influence of the supper table and its impact on the break down of British family life, got me thinking.

Let’s face it, too often these little surveys can be exagerrated and excessive, after all, the memory of a supper table can be hell for many – you won’t leave this table before you’ve eaten your peasshut up! you don’t talk at the supper tableuse your forkdon’t chew with your mouth open, and on and on.

But, that said, how often do we sit with family around a supper table? Not often enough, I think. Rather, we have these lounges with enormous TV screens ogled at by individuals oblivious of one another, and eating from trays precariously balanced on their knees. Perhaps it’s a sign of the times, but in our postmodern culture wouldn’t it be good just to hold on to at least something of the family supper table.

Some say, rightly or wrongly, that civilization evolved hand in hand with the civilizing power of the supper table. I like that. They go on to say that when the table finally transformed itself from an uncivilized free for all, ravenous every-person-for-themselves kind of thing, in to a caring and sharing pattern of togetherness, the world changed with it. Is that pushing it too far? Well, I’m not so sure. There’s certainly something here and I’m just wondering whether we shouldn’t take note of it.

What is the essence of a supper table? Is it not a coming back from a place of fragmentation to a strong sense of belonging and togethernes, a bit like the triangle re-positioning the red balls for a second game of snooker, each ball having its own particular place and standing in that togetherness? Is it not a sensitivity to one another – would you like some salt, or, pass the salt? Does it not have to do with manners (sadly, a rather outdated concept in our age) – pass the salt, pleasewould you like your tea now? Is it not a sharing and a waiting your turn, others before you, or after you for that matter, or a place of the art of listening and speaking, where stories are told, affirmation offered, and encouragement given. Is it not all these good and wholesome things?

Now, I’m not sure how you feel about all this, but if we really believe that the quality and essence of life depends on those everyday little transactions in its ordinariness, then, the supper table has much to offer.

So for me, long live the supper table! And if our memories of it are bad, let’s change that. It’s the least we can do for our children, grandchildren and the rest of posterity.

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About Don

I love life. Sometimes it makes sense, other times not. Discerning its underlying patterns and beauty always provides great reward and meaning and is a passion I ineptly follow. I feel deeply attached to nature and love the sea with its distinct moods and colour and find walking along its beaches wonderfully inspiring. Writing, sketching and photography is a sheer joy for me and the blog is one of the places I am able to express these pursuits.
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24 Responses to Gathering Around The Supper Table

  1. darrelhoff says:

    Don, I really like this. a fond memory I have of my dad and my brother and I is sitting around the supper table during our high school years.. talking about our days. wow, we seemed to really LISTEN to each other during those times. šŸ™‚

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  2. Don Scrooby says:

    I’m sure that memory sticks with you Darrel. To be listened to and to listen is such a gift. Thanks for sharing it.

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  3. ladyfi says:

    I like the community of the supper table and often eat with my kids as I’m usually home… My husband works and commutes and eats much later than the rest of us.

    I love going back to the UK and eating with my whole family – we always have such a laugh!

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  4. Don Scrooby says:

    Like you, I too have kids in the UK and whenever my wife and I go to see them, we have these marvellous meals together. As you say, the community aspect of the supper table is such a gift. Thanks for your comment.

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  5. Len says:

    Long live the supper table it brings the four of us together in an amazing way and it includes the Lord as well. By the way no TV in the dining room. I have just got to find a way for everyone th do the dishes.

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  6. kimleach says:

    This is awesome Don! Just this evening we had a get together with a few clergy and lay people to eat chat and pray about the youth project I work for and the main topic was just exactly this – dinner at the table, and stories! How the lack of this fundamental family time has hel

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    • kimleach says:

      (Sorry was busy tying and hit the post button by mistake!) As I was saying – the lack of this fundamental family time has helped break down communication and relationships between the younger and older generation!! At home we try and sit round the table to eat and then always find we want to stay there and play games or chat!
      Thanks for this!!

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      • Don Scrooby says:

        So glad it all spoke in to your situation, Kim. Your times at the table sound so good. I think it’s marvellous what you all do. Thanks for sharing.

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  7. Greg says:

    The meals I most enjoy are at ‘Berg Hotels, when fellow guests share your table and swap stories.
    Time seems to vanish and sometimes I feel like I’m in a Woody Allen movie!

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    • Don Scrooby says:

      Greg, I can just see you in that context, a kind of an Oscar Wilde holding the dinner table spellbound with your stories. I must say that some of the best moments in my life also happened around meals at the dinner table.

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  8. Geraldien Coetzee says:

    Don I enjoyed your blog. We still use the supper table and have had many many happy meals with our kids, grand children, family and friends. Our meals take a long time because we all catch up on what each has been doing.
    When Norman and myself are alone we sit in the lounge but when we have anyone around sit at the table. I think too many children have missed out by not eating at a table and in fron of the TV.
    We still use our table a lot and cherish the time spent with our kids. Our meals are happy meals with much laughter.
    Bless you

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    • Don Scrooby says:

      Thanks Geraldine. Just looking at your pics of the family and the closeness all of you enjoy, I can imagine that table to be a very happy and joyful place. What a gift you guys have.

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  9. Geraldien Coetzee says:

    Sorry Don I even spelt my name wrong. Geraldine ha ha

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  10. Your post has made me look at our diningroom table – full of sewing machine, overlocker, material, pattern pieces and my Netbook! I do clear it and we do use it when family comes over but our Kitchen nook is the ‘gesellige plek’ for meal times for Kevin and me. Christmas time is when our diningroom table is usually transformed and those memories are extra special. Many jigsaws have been built and umpteen board games have been played on it – I’ll be sad to see it go one day!
    The important thing, which I believe you were trying to focus on, is for us to find the family time – the story time – the together time. Blessings and I look forward to the next one.

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    • Don Scrooby says:

      Must be quite a table Jenny. Sounds like the most creative table in the world – Lol. Is it going somewhere?

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      • If our application to serve in Canada comes through, then we’ll be down-sizing and although I like our diningroom suite neither of our girls do šŸ˜¦ – NOT modern enough! We’ll be coming back but we’re not sure how much we can store while were away. So, I might be saying goodbye to my old faithful friend (on which I’ve sewn a lot) fairly soon. Thanks for asking. It is an exciting time, though, just a little scary.

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      • Don Scrooby says:

        Bit sad, hey. I mean about the table. But what an adventure awaits you both. Sounds so exciting.

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  11. Katy says:

    While the T.V.gets the blame for lots of things, often unfairly, I do think it is responsible for the demise of the family meal around the table. My fondest memories of having a meal around the table are surprisingly, school dinners. Jamie Oliver would have been proud of our dinner ladies – hot wholesome food (much better than we got at home). I always seemed to be ravenously hungry and those meals , 10 of us to a table plus one teacher to supervise, were so good. We even got superb puddings!!!
    But back to the table – every time we got a new grandchild, Barry would say the same thing “another place at the table”. Now we have to have two tables to accomodate us all at family get togethers and table manners are, well, in short supply but those meals around the tables chaotic as they are, are special. Even more so when all the dishes are done and the family have gone back to their own homes and Barry and I can sit back with some tea and toast ON OUR LAP.!!!!!

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    • Don Scrooby says:

      Katy, those school tables must have been quite something. Am I right in assuming that you were in boarding school? That teacher must have been quite something to have ten at the table. I love those words of Barry. They sound so special, so accepting, so full of welcome. There’s something quite wonderful about “our place.” ON OUR LAP!!!! – Lol – You should try having it on your head. Thanks for sharing.

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  12. Katy says:

    No Don, I wasn,t at boarding school. Remember in U.K. school started at 9am and finished at 4pm. The school lunches were provided mostly for the kids of working moms and because it was generally so cold, a sandwich just didn,t do it. I think we were charged 1 shilling per day but it must have been heavily subsidised.

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  13. We love it when everyone comes home and we can have family meals again, lots of laughs and catching up – sometimes we don’t even leave the table until it’s time for bed! šŸ™‚

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