"All great change in America begins at the dinner table." -Ronald Reagan
We have talked all week about frugality in meal planning. I want to end our week thinking about how NOT be frugal at the tables in our home.
While we slash grocery bills, meal plan, and reuse leftovers with frugality in mind, the greatest extravagance and over-indulgence at our tables should be in that of time, deliberate speech, and the extension of hospitality.
Sometimes I think we have it backwards in this culture: we buy fast food so we can take time and spend the evening staring blankly at the TV. Many homes in America find families preparing a meal, just to have everyone eating in separate rooms, watching the news, or eating awkwardly with no desire for conversation.
Seneca, influential Roman writer and philosopher in the time of Christ, said,
It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it.
In guarding their fortune men are often closefisted, yet, when it comes to the matter of wasting time, in the case of the one thing in which it is right to be miserly, they show themselves most prodigal.
We have such an amazing opportunity in the mealtimes, and The Table. The great reformer, Martin Luther was known to be the most himself, the most elucidating, and the most generous with his times at his dinner table, which is where we have received the recording of his thoughts through the compilation, "Table Talk."
What is most generously dispensed at our tables? May we continually serve up heaping helpings of the Gospel in conversation and action. May grand portions of relationship-prioritizing time be found at every meal. And may extravagant deliberateness in training and encouraging our children be the tone of gathering around.
Consider the words of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:
A single conversation across the table with a wise man is better than ten years mere study of books.
or that of Judith Martin, aka "Miss Manners":
The dinner table is the center for the teaching and practicing not just of table manners but of conversation, consideration, tolerance, family feeling, and just about all the other accomplishments of polite society except the minuet.
And yet, how much more than etiquette and human wisdom we can serve across our dinner tables; we have the bounty of God's provisions, not only in physical sustenance, but in the satisfying supply of Grace through Christ.
Let us not be frugal, economical, or much too efficient, in making this the focus of our family's table.