Have you ever had an epiphany? A realization? A discovery that hits you over the head like a ton of bricks and slaps you in the face all at the same time as if to say… “Of course! How could you be so blind and not see it before?!”
Well, my friends, this is exactly what happened today and this story all comes back to something I’ve known for a few years and have been thinking about a lot over the past few weeks. I even included it in this post from 2018 titled, 10 Things I Wish We Included In Our Home When We Built. Now I am finally ready to shout it from the interior design rooftop. “Let’s bring back the kitchen table!”
I’m going to go into story mode on you for a bit, but it’s this story that came full circle to the kitchen table.
This morning I was having a phone conversation with my bestie. Let me begin by saying how much I treasure every conversation with her.
Some days our calls are inspirational to keep each other moving forward.
Some days our calls are to celebrate wins in our personal lives, businesses, or to remind us to be grateful for all we have in life.
Some days our calls are just to say hello.
Some days we laugh. Some we cry. And some we take turns being silent while the other vents.
And some days we get into in depth talks about what is going on in this world that seems completely up-ended. Today was one of those days.
I think the conversation started by my recalling a short video I watched where the woman questioned some major differences between the USA and Italy. She was saying…
In the USA, something like 1 out of 5 people see a therapist. In Italy, family and friends gather for meals around a table and talk.
In the USA, the mindset/life coaching industry has exploded in recent years. It seems like everyone either wants to be one or has one. In Italy, friends and family gather at events, festivals, and for holidays and talk about their goals and dreams.
In the USA, we have gyms and personal trainers on what seems like every street. In Italy, they walk to work, to church, to the grocery store, running into family and friends on the streets as they do, and they talk along the way.
In the USA, there is constant talk of diets and meal plans. In Italy, families work together to grow their own food (or visit local shops that do), cook the homemade food together as a family, and they eat around the kitchen table together and talk.
Being Italian and growing up in a large Italian family, we have always focussed on family, food, and taking pride in hard work to make the life you want. And it’s why I was so drawn to the message in this women’s video.
As I recounted these things with my bestie, I had that epiphany. It was what I have been seeing so much of over the past 3 years. It was right in front of me, but today it hit me like a ton of bricks…
So much of what we do here in the USA could be…
what is the right phase?…
could be not necessary…
could be made better…
if our culture as a whole focussed more on the family and gathering.
So much could be talked out as we sit across the table from each other to talk about our day, our work, our dreams, our fears, or about world politics.
Even home designs in the USA have changed to move away from this lifestyle. Kitchens no longer have a kitchen table, they have islands.
And you may be thinking that kitchen islands were created because it makes gathering in the kitchen easier. I agree. In some cases it does – like when you’ve having a party.
But when we have a party, I talk more with the guests than I do my own children and the conversations are more superficial conversations because it’s like speaking out in public.
So I may be going against popular opinion here… but here me out.
When we built our house 2o years ago, we installed a kitchen island; two of them actually. And for the past 20 years, me (Mom) has stood on one side of that island cooking, prepping, and serving meals, while the kids sit on the other side (yet never at the same time) and ate.
We don’t set place settings at the island, we stack the plates in a pile or grab them individually from the cabinet.
We don’t face each other sitting at the island because the chairs are lined up in a straight line across. But we do sitting at the table.
Imagine if we brought back the kitchen table.
Imagine if we set the table with placemats, dishes, silverware, and glasses.
Then set the food in the center of the table to serve it family-style.
And ate together as a family AT THE SAME TIME every night of the week (and not just for Sunday dinner or a special holiday).
I do know many families that still do this. When I was growing up, it was a nightly ritual. But in general today, I think our culture here in the USA has gotten away from sitting down together during the week, eating a meal, and talking.
Really talking. About important things.
The kitchen table is different from the dining room table.
It’s smaller, more intimate.
It’s in the heart of the home — the kitchen — as opposed to being off to the side or in another room.
The kitchen table is more casual which makes people feel more at ease to open up.
The kitchen table says… sit, let’s make a cup of tea, and stay a while.
When was the last time a family member or friends dropped by unexpectedly and you made a cup of tea? Likely not anytime recently because everything is sooooo scheduled.
I love when family and friends drop by unexpectedly just to say hello.
Bringing back the kitchen table would give a place to write a letter and give our kids the chance to ask who we’re writing to and learn how to address an envelope.
It would give us a place to pay the bills in front of our kids and actually teach them how to write a check or pay a bill online, balance a checkbook, and talk openly about money.
It would give us a place to plan, draw, sew, write, and be creative!
It would give us a place to have a one-on-one conversation.
The conversation with my bestie today moved into a few other sensitive topics too, but in all that we talked about, I remember the best part… We talked about the importance of…
Family & Friends… Gathering… and Talking
And I believe this could all be accomplished around the kitchen table.