The table has meant so many things to me over the course of my life, but especially over the last year. The conversations and connections around a meal are invaluable.
Twenty-twenty provided an opportunity to strengthen my resolve about the value of connection. Learning how to set a virtual table [for my students, strangers, and friends] was no simple task. Every feeble attempt at community mattered. Although Zoom brought unexpected limitations, it became a necessary vessel for connection. The bright spot is that a virtual table omitted my worry about where to place the knife or fork at a place setting.
Real talk. As much as I love a good meal, proper table settings make me nervous.
While I distinctly remember learning about properly setting the table in Brownies, I also remember panic moving in simultaneously. Did the spoon and knife go together? Where did the napkin belong? What if I didn’t get the place setting right?
I wish I was exaggerating.
Setting the table sends me googling and worrying in equal amounts. Not that it happens all that much, but there are times I’m sure I don’t own the correct dishes, and I ought to own cloth napkins. You see, I’m more of a paper and plastic kind of girl.
Don’t misunderstand. I love the beauty of a properly set table. I swoon over beautiful china and polished silver. I appreciate the effort it takes and the aesthetic it creates, but not knowing HOW should not keep me from trying.
When I don’t try, I miss the gift of connection.
I’ve heard others say that comparison is the thief of joy. I can assuredly recall times when that has been true, but I think comparison steals more than joy.
Comparison is often the death of engagement.
If I can’t do [such and such] like [so and so], then why should I even try? How many invitations have been withheld because fear of not getting it perfect prevailed?
Personally, setting a proper table is not about the actual place settings. A properly set table is about creating a space for interaction and engagement. Cultivating relationship takes center stage.
Can that happen around a table the mothers of etiquette would approve? Without a doubt. Can it happen around a table set with paper and plastic? Definitely.
If not knowing how to set a table kept me from inviting others to it, I would not be the woman I am. My life is a collection of pearls of wisdom I’ve collected around the table.
If I calculate what I don’t have/what I don’t know, I come up short every time.
Comparison might be the thief of joy, but it’s often the death of engagement, so I’ll keep consulting Google to find out where the knife goes AND using paper plates.
I will continue extending invitations to my table and engaging with anyone willing to come. I won’t measure success in terms of someone else’s table.
Table settings are conduits for relationship, so I’ll keep setting the table in hopes of cultivating opportunities to grow deeper with others.
The invitation is more important than the presentation, so if you are looking for a place at the table, join me on Youtube once a month for Table Talk: A Video Podcast. There is room for you.
#TableTalk #EtiQUIT #Comparison