I eat dinner alone most of the time.
Not because I’m single or friendless, but because while my husband is content with chowing down in front of the T.V. while nestling on the couch, I absolutely insist on eating dinner at a table that is fully set with plates, silverware, cloth napkins and candlelight.
I can understand that most people, including my husband, might find this ritual out-dated, unnecessary and tiresome. After all, after a long day’s work in this society’s hustle and bustle, what can be more comfortable and relaxing than eating some food and zoning out in front of a screen? The promise of a comfy and cozy body and stomach and easy entertainment can be too much for some people to give up.
I have my grandmother to thank for my peculiar dinner habits. She was Austrian. By that I mean that she was born in Austria and came through Ellis Island with her mother and younger sister on a boat that left from Germany. I spent a lot of time with her during my formative years and I remember her as being one of the most elegant and sophisticated women I ever had the privilege of knowing. She had such class and a sense of decorum about everything that she did and she is the reason why I dine the way I do. Without fail, for every meal she would have me help her set the table while she put the finishing touches on a delicious and nutritious meal. This included all of silverware (all of it!), cloth napkins, place mats, dishes and flowers for breakfast and lunch but a candle for dinner.
When I was a young child and helping her with this, it seemed like such a chore. Now that I am older and she is no longer with us, I remember her whenever I complete my evening ritual. I find that I also eat better and slower than my husband and I don’t think this is a coincidence. I know that there a many people that promote this “slow food” lifestyle, and I’m glad to have been exposed to it from a young age by my grandmother.
It is truly amazing how the simple and shared act of preparing a dinner table can have such lifelong effects on someone. I hope that one day if I have any children, that they’ll take after me and learn to acquire this ritual.
What rituals do you have that are important to you?