Making Time to Dine
During the Pandemic

Elegant Table Setting

Do you ever get the chance to enjoy a slow, leisurely meal?  Savoring every bite while participating in pleasant conversation with friends or family?  This special time is known as dining.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, with health uncertainty prevailing, the specialness of carving out time to dine in our busy schedules has all but disappeared.  People have become saturated with routines at home, and some have written that they have abandoned dining together as anything special at all.

A Reminder of Importance

Protocol guidelines for meals, otherwise known as table manners, grew out of human sociality.  In honor of celebrating the uniquely human ability to draw people to one setting to "break bread" together, perhaps the re-application of changing things up is in order.

If you have children in your family, consider drawing them into your scheme of making a meal really special.  Alone, or with them, here is a beginning list of suggestions.

  • Decide on one day this week to hold a "Super Manners Meal."
  • Create a printed menu to set at each place setting.  Yes, even if you live alone.
  • Place a centerpiece of flowers on the table.
  • Set your table according to the menu.
  • Include a water glass and wine or beverage glasses.
  • Fold the napkins decoratively and set at each place setting.
  • Play quiet music in the background and adjust lighting, if possible, to create ambience.
  • Write pleasant conversation topics on thin strips of paper and place them in a bowl on the table.
  • Wear something nicer than usual.
  • When it's time to dine, ask everyone to join you at the table and stand behind their chairs until you ask them to be seated.
  • Once seated, remind everyone that you are placing your napkin in your lap to begin the meal, and include a prayer if that's part of your tradition.
  • Before you begin eating, ask each person what the most important table manner is.  This opens the mealtime conversation.
  • Enjoy passing the bowl of conversation topics once the meal is underway.
  • Make clean-up fun by thanking everyone ahead of time for helping.
  • The next day, ask each family member what they enjoyed most about the "Super Manners Meal."

Take time to create your own mealtime traditions with your family and, as soon as possible again, your friends.  Your family might enjoy practicing both the American and Continental styles of dining.  One of the conversation topics you might add to the bowl is, "Why is it a good thing to learn the proper way to use your dining tools?" 

A Habit of Making Time to Dine

A couple of basic guidelines to get into the habit of making a special time to dine are:

  • Share the responsibilities of the meal and decide ahead of time who prepares the meal, who sets the table, who cleans up, etc.
  • Continue to encourage only pleasant conversation during your meals.  Let your table be a place of sharing and caring.

Mealtime has evolved to the extent that our lifestyles have evolved.  What has not changed is our need for learning and expressing ourselves with courtesy in the company of others.  The best way to feed this need, and our bodies, is taking the time to dine in a convivial atmosphere.

Please share with me some of your experiences of making time to dine.  I'd love to hear from you.

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