One time, I started a food fight. At 11 years old, I was fairly sophisticated, and a little too serious, so this kind of behavior was HIGHLY unusual from the likes of me. Allison (9) or Steven (5) gave off a strong food-fighting vibe, but me? Not so much.
Never had a food fight occurred in the Johnson residence, and to this day, no food fight has answered the challenge laid that night. It certainly was a smashing success. One inciting act of pea flinging erupted a massive pea and potato-slinging spree. I had never understood why peas were round. That night I learned it was for better fling-ability. I have a similar theory about why mashed potatoes are sticky.
The battle was fierce and brief—a blitzkrieg of sorts. In the aftermath, we were forced to spend a half hour picking up the vegetables strewn about the dining nook. But I think we three would all still agree—SO. WORTH. IT.
My dinner table feels a little different today. And it doesn’t necessarily sparkle to life with a single, daring choice to catapult peas. Dinnertime is code for “just off work and exhausted.” Dinnertime is the battleground of healthy and wholesome or easy and numbing (How you doing, mac’n cheese?). And often, dinnertime gets rushed through or started late or crudely acknowledged with a bowl of cereal, depending on what I “need” to do next or how empty the house is.
Still sometimes, like tonight, I am intentional and dinnertime unfolds like a story. It’s a glass of wine and some cheese as I try a new rub on fresh salmon and roast the asparagus that I’ve tossed in olive oil and fresh-cracked pepper. It’s the anticipation of a roommate coming home and the quiet writing while I wait. Then it is the tales we will exchange at the kitchen bar as we flip back and forth in our use of pots and pans, sautéing and steaming, laughing and shouting in mock-outrage at the absurdities our days held. And finally dinnertime is the choice to eat at the table and taste all of my food as conversation flows on.
Dinnertime is this lovely invitation we receive every evening. And much can be revealed about the state of my heart based on whether or not I have chosen to make space for dinner that day.
I wonder what dinnertime looks like for you and what it could tell me about your heart. Is it a time when you juggle lots of other people or you feel the empty inside your house? Is it fun and creative? Is it predictable and polite? Is there laughter? Is it loud? Does everybody eat together or in shifts? Is it a space safe for honest conversation…and flinging your vegetables?
Oh—I have to go or my asparagus will turn into charcoal. Dinnertime.
Katy Johnson lives, dreams, writes, and edits in a messy, watercolored world. She’s a 25 year old, discovering her hope, her longings, and the wild spaces in her own heart. Her favorite creative project right now is called The Someday Writings, and someday, she may let those writings see the light of day. For now, she shares her thoughts here.
I know everyone will shudder, but my husband & I eat on trays and watch something we’ve recorded on TV. But for me this is bliss. Being alone for nearly 20 years after my divorce and then remarrying to the most wonderful man ever, this small part of our day is like a gift. We are in our 60’s and the predictability and shared experience is perfect for day’s end. Conversely, when there is a family get-together or we have company, it is always a time of sharing and laughter at the dinner table. Enjoyed your writing.
I love the contrast you speak of, beauty in the routine as well as the anticipation of a large gathering. Thank you for sharing.
Really? I check in on your mom who wrote an amazing post today, and then THIS? What a gift. My heart feels encouraged and blessed and the honest answer is that for many, many, too many years, dinner in our home was another thing to endure and check off of the list as there were lots of people big and small, lots of tension, lots of struggle, lots of hurting hearts. Yes, we always sat down together to a full, home cooked meal, yet something was missing. Lots of issues to unpack.
We’ve been doing lots of work these past 8 years.
Tonight, dinner looked like 2 of our 5 “at home” children eating homemade pizza with us while the others had plans and my 9 year old and I “pranking” her dad when he said “let’s pray.” We started to sing the Bunny Song from a Veggie Tales movie (her idea).
We are learning to play.
It was me noticing that making two pizzas was a bit too much, but we ate and laughed and shared stories from the day and had ice cream sundaes for dessert.
Thank you for your words. Always.
Julie, Sometimes we do end up being quite the dynamo, thought I can assure you it isn’t always on purpose 😉 Thank you for the lovely glimpse into your family’s world. I love the shift you’ve noticed in how your family does dinner. As well as the permission and freedom that have come to define your table.
I am so grateful for the play you all refused to relinquish as I tried to create a clean and contained world….a tremendous gift to my heart.
Happy to bring your world a little chaos. 😉 Thank you for learning to speak beauty into the chaos.