The art of family meals

Sign that hangs in my dining room, made by me at Board and Brush

A few years ago I was looking for a new dining room table, because mine was an older, oval table and it was difficult to fit our family around it for the holidays. While looking for my new table, I was told many times by friends that I should not bother… that my children would be moving out soon, and I would not need one. I persisted saying that my family was going to get bigger and still got my larger table. And they could not have been more wrong with their advice.

You see when my children were young, we had family dinners almost every Sunday. Friends as well as family would come to my home. Especially during the summer months as I have a pool which is not only refreshing but relaxing to sit around. One of my favorite memories is my niece telling me one day that “people must love coming to your house.” When I asked her why, she replied “because the food is so good.” This was the same day that I took an adorable photo of her and my son with chocolate all over their faces after having eaten one of my desserts. This may not seem like a big compliment, but my pool has a diving board, water fall and hot tub, so for her to think my food was more important was quite an honor to me.

As my children grew, this weekly meal continued. No matter how tired I was from working all week, I would create a homemade meal and dessert for my in-laws and my parents. What I did not realize at the time was that I was also creating a habit for my children that they now ask me to do often. Have family dinner at my house.

That table that seemed like it would be too big is now not large enough to fit us all, as my little family has grown to have another daughter (the one that my son picked for me) two grandchildren, my daughter’s boyfriend and whomever else wants to come over.

So I still weekly create a meal, but these days we also sometimes get takeout. Because however much I enjoy it, I am older and getting tired. The days of having a difficult meal in progress, and deciding in the middle of the chaos to add some homemade cookies are done. (For which my hubby is very thankful) I get overwhelmed too easily now. I am also quite proud that the first person typically up to pick the empty plates up and start washing, is my son. He knows how hard I have worked to create the meal and always wants to help.

The one thing that has not changed over the years is how I love having my loved ones around my table. I love seeing them enjoying the atmosphere that I create with the centerpieces on the table and eating the meal I created. Because this is another way I show my love for them.

So here is to traditions that continue on, especially the ones that get us all together around the table. Because that is where a lot of memories are definitely made.

Some of the tables I have set over the years… birthday parties often get balloons, Disney plates are always used, along with Grandma Antonia’s silver. I threw my own 25th Anniversary dinner, using napkins from my wedding. We also hosted a 30th anniversary party for my sister and her husband in our back yard where I made a beautiful hanging centerpiece over a table of all white. Although it is fun to set a table, to me it is a way to show my love for my family.

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