48. Lettuce & Ketchup Sandwiches

In this post, we continue the list of table/meal rules we began in post 47.  Once you have read them, write down the meal rules you followed as a child, and the ones you have instituted in your own family over the years.  Are there some that you would like to re-visit?  Begin to incorporate?

  • No talking with your mouth full or chewing with your mouth open.
  • No seconds of a particular food until what was served is eaten (or tried in the case of the ‘one-bite’ rule)
  • No trading foods at the table, or eating off another person’s plate, or sneaking food to the dog under the table.
  • No raised voices at the table.
  • Proper use of cutlery is expected (the knife is not a light saber).
  • Keep your hands to yourself and sit up properly in your seat.
  • Pre-determine who will sit where to avoid fights; a rotating seating chart is helpful, as is keeping track of who sits in mom or dad’s chair when a parent is out of town.
  • Everyone is expected to thank the cook(s) after every meal.
  • If you incorporate prayer and/or the reading of Scripture at a meal, decide ahead of time who will be responsible on a given evening.
  • No use of ugly words, inappropriate stories, gossip, or disrespectful tones at the table. Ugly words are just that, words which inflame, belittle, or create a vision of something too unpleasant to be considered acceptable at the table. In our family, this list includes words like hate, stupid, moron, pee and poop.
  • Involve all family members in the “making” of a meal, from menu planning, grocery shopping (and unpacking and putting away at home), meal preparation, table preparation, table service, saying grace, reading Scripture or devotions, and cleaning up afterwards. Encourage children to be in the kitchen- even small children can help put together a salad or stir the soup. Be ready for surprises like spills, cuts, or unusual menu items. The first meal our daughter, age six, proudly prepared for us, after shooing us out of the kitchen, was lettuce and ketchup sandwiches. We were compelled to pronounce every bite delicious!
  • Consider creating a useful rubric, or set of questions for guiding family meal conversation; here are just a few ideas:
    • Where did you meet God today?
    • Who did something nice for someone else today?
    • What’s the neatest thing you learned today?
    • Who knows why it’s good for us to eat this broccoli tonight?
    • If you could invite one other person, living or dead, to share this meal, who would it be?
    • If you could have a different first name, what would it be? Why?
    • What was in the news today? What should we pray about?
    • Did anything happen today that was unexpected or hard for you to handle?
    • Who remembers something from last Sunday’s sermon?
    • What two foods would you have to have with you on a deserted island?
    • What does it mean to be hungry?
    • What did Jesus eat? When he was a boy, do you think there was any food his mother Mary served that he didn’t like?
    • God gave the Israelites manna in the desert. What is that? Does God give us manna today?
    • With just a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish, Jesus fed over 5,000 people. What do you think it was like to be there and see that happen?
    • Where does hamburger come from? What about ham?
    • Why do lots of people decide not to eat meat? Dairy? Eggs? Fish? Poultry?
    • What are some foods we grow right here in our own state?
    • What makes a Happy Meal so happy?
    • If you made dinner for the family next Saturday, what would you cook?
    • Is there anybody at church, or school, or work you think we should invite over for a meal sometime soon?
    • If a total stranger rang the doorbell right now, should we invite him/her in for dinner?
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