Table talk.

dinner[image credit here] Image discredit: This looks nothing like my family at dinner.

Plates spinning.

Balls juggling.

Irons in the fire.

Call it what you want, but life has just felt BUSY. And even when it’s not busy, my mind is so busy. (Why must my mind constantly to-do list? Why?) My children are still relatively young, and I try desperately not to overbook them, but the calendar still makes me dizzy some weeks. Cub scouts, parent-teacher conference, homeowners meetings, visiting teaching, etc.

President Uchtdorf said:

Isn’t it true that we often get so busy? And, sad to say, we even wear our busyness as a badge of honor, as though being busy, by itself, was an accomplishment or sign of a superior life.

Ugh. I don’t think it’s a badge. If it were, I could take it off, and I would. Oh, I would. And I know it’s not a superior life, because my idea of a superior life has something more to do with beaches, books, and not a calendar to be found. But I’m not blameless, and I know I can always use a little prioritizing and my to-do list would benefit from some erasing. The quote continues…

I think of our Lord and Exemplar, Jesus Christ, and His short life among the people of Galilee and Jerusalem. I have tried to imagine Him bustling between meetings or multitasking to get a list of urgent things accomplished.

I can’t see it.

Instead I see the compassionate and caring Son of God purposefully living each day. When He interacted with those around Him, they felt important and loved. He knew the infinite value of the people He met. He blessed them, ministered to them. He lifted them up, healed them. He gave them the precious gift of His time.

People. Time. Purpose. One of the things I cling to during the busy seasons is dinnertime. At least we can sit down together and all look at each other in the face and remember we belong to each other. We do scripture study early in the morning too, but sometimes people don’t look at each other, on account of their eyes being swollen shut with sleep and all. But at dinnertime, we can finally breathe a little and try to talk over a meal. I am still light years away from making those meals much to brag about (tonight was mac&cheese), but we set the table and sit down and eat. My children are just young enough that a lot of their table talk makes me wonder why family dinner was a good idea in the first place (farts and boogers, anyone?), but at least it’s entertaining.

[I recently received a copy of book called “Table Talk” by John and Tina Bushman, and it’s full of ideas of NORMAL and halfway intelligent questions to discuss with your kids over the dinner table. Some of them are a tad advanced for my little ones, but some can lead in to cool conversations, like after Matt’s grandma died, we could talk about stuff like “What do you believe happens to a person’s soul when they die?” Anyway, you can find it here if you’re interested.]

In my fantasy world, someday my children will look back with nostalgia at our time sitting around the table together. And I’m sure they will all be successful, happy, and glowing because of it.  Elder Dallin H. Oaks cautioned,

The number of those who report that their “whole family usually eats dinner together” has declined 33 percent. This is most concerning because the time a family spends together “eating meals at home [is] the strongest predictor of children’s academic achievement and psychological adjustment.”3 Family mealtimes have also been shown to be a strong bulwark against children’s smoking, drinking, or using drugs.4 There is inspired wisdom in this advice to parents: what your children really want for dinner is you.

I think what my children really want for dinner is cinnamon rolls and orange soda, but I’m hoping Elder Oaks is right and I will suffice.
So sit down with your kids and have a nice dinner conversation. If you’re craving mac&cheese, come on over.
(Feel free to leave one of your favorite fast/easy dinner recipes in the comments.)
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Principles of Successful Families, by Becca Wilhite


When my kids were small, hours were eternal. And there were so many of them in a day. It was impossible to find an activity that could adequately fill one without driving me to lunacy or complete physical exhaustion.

Years passed, full of those ceaseless, relentless hours.

What happened, then? When did the space-time continuum shift? Why is it that now, hours are scarce, precious, and all too short? Time, that monster that used to hover over me, huffing out the moments like hot breath, has disappeared, been replaced by a frantically-ticking clock, spinning seconds into hours, into weeks and years.

These days, it’s my most important work to wrangle that clock into submission and slow down one hour a day. Keep my finger on the second hand so it won’t get out of control and run away with my family’s moments.

A few minutes of that hour happen in the morning, when groggy, bed-head kids and half-primped teens and at least one sweaty, post-work-out parent (the other parent may have abandoned the work out ritual, again) meet at the kitchen table for scripture study. It’s one time in a day that I’m grateful that school is in session. The forced schedule kick-starts our morning motivation. Even through the yawning, the paper-scorching morning breath, and the zoning out, the words get spoken aloud. And we pray together, and I pray in my heart. I pray for the sinking in. I pray for the application. I pray they’ll remember the sweet moments here, not the other kind.

The rest of the wrangled minutes come at the other end of the day. Back around the table, in what have become “our spots,” we gather for dinner. It’s my one consistent offering. We don’t do fancy. We don’t even always do tasty. I’m no Julia Child. I can’t even spell “gourmet” without looking it up. My kids didn’t know meat came on bones until I accidentally introduced them to KFC. Now they think of The Colonel as a kindly uncle who stops by once a year to clog our arteries.

Dinner is simple around here. I don’t mean easy – give me credit, please. I mean unadorned. And while I try to feed these people healthy meals full of green and growing things, that’s not even the most important part for me. The nourishing I aim for is the other kind. These minutes, the ones carved out of every evening, stolen from work schedules and rehearsals and practices and play time, these minutes hold the moments.

At the table, between passing the white salad dressing to that kid and the pink salad dressing to this kid, we hear the stories that make up the missing hours of the days. We hear the giddy stories about the boy who almost said the most charming thing. We hear the angsty stories about the friend who is, if not actively in trouble, heading that way. We hear the hilarious stories that don’t translate to any place but that table. Sorry. You had to be there. We hear the frustrating, the exciting, the proud-making stories. We hear and we tell the stories of the other parts of our lives.

And in sharing the stories, we recapture a few of those spinning moments. Every day, a few minutes at a time.

Becca Wilhite loves being a wife and a mom and a writer. In that order. Consider yourself invited to visit her online anytime at BeccaWilhite.com

[Editor’s note: Becca is also a master friend.]

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