Cooking, kitchen table, meals together – who needs them?

Cooking, kitchen table, meals together – who needs them?
"Cooking. What's that?" a television reporter said as he ended his news story on the changing dining habits of Americans. Nowadays, the reporter noted, more and more people dine out or eat on the run, leaving the cooking – that ancient activity – to others.

A recent study revealed that American families eat out an average of four nights a week. This means fewer and fewer people actually gather around the table in the kitchen or dining room for a meal together at home. You know – ta-ble – that thing with four legs and at least two chairs.

The latest news is that a growing number of Americans consume at least one meal each day in their cars. What next?

A few years ago, when our youngest child, Nicholas, was moving into his first apartment, he and his roommates checked off the things they needed to furnish the place. Nicholas added a kitchen table and chairs.

"What for?" one roommate asked, while the others looked dumbfounded.

"Why do we need a table? And chairs?" another asked.

"To eat our meals?" Nicholas said, shaking his head at their questions.

His roommates wasted no time seriously making their case.

"I usually eat in my recliner and use the coffee table," one confirmed.

"I eat in my bed," the other said as a matter of fact.

But you see, Nicholas was raised eating meals at the table – that piece of furniture teetering on obsolescence somewhere in the kitchen; so we helped him hunt down a second-hand set.

My father used to say that if you want it all, you have to give up something. Americans probably are saving time dining out or eating on the run, but at what cost for such convenience?

Where else do we have the opportunity to do the things we do around that kitchen table? Praising. Thanking. Sharing. Listening. Laughing. Being together.

Bless this food to our use. How was your day? Hey, did you hear the one … I am so glad to be home. I love you. Pass the potatoes, please.

Cooking. What's that? Kitchen table and chairs. Who needs them? Meals together. What for?

A resident of Southeast South Dakota for more than 30 years, Paula Damon is a popular columnist, keynote speaker, and freelance writer. Her columns have won first-place national and state awards in The National Federation of Press Women competitions. Most recently, Damon's writing took second place statewide in the South Dakota Press Women 2007 Competition. For more information, e-mail

� 2007 Paula Damon

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