Chaos and Control

Last month, I made a rough outline of some of the topics related to family meals that we might write about this month. It was nice to have some guiding ideas down on paper, but I knew that real life would probably take us in different directions.

I thought we’d write for a few days about making a beautiful table, but we’ve already discovered that perfect place settings aren’t that important to us. The photo above is a typical view of our dining room table. The bowls of oranges are practical – they’re on sale right now, and it’s a snack that the kids can reach and prepare themselves.When it’s time to eat, we usually clear off the toys and books – straight to the built-in shelf in the background. Because that’s what built-ins were made for, right?

Martha Stewart-style dining room tables are great, but our table rarely gets that dressed up these days. The best word to describe our table is utilitarian. It’s a busy, hard working table, just like us. We live with a fair amount of chaos, but it’s a happy, comfortable chaos. And I’m sure that Martha’s table is happy and comfortable in it’s own way – there’s not one right way to do dining room tables.

What’s your table like? How much chaos can you live with? How much control do you think you need?



5 thoughts on “Chaos and Control

  1. Our table seems to be a window into my family’s life–and a metaphor for mine! in some ways. It is the first piece of furniture you can set things down on when you come in the door. It is our homeschooling center, our friends-come-over-and-make-things space, our sorting-out-putting-away-what-just-came-in-the-door space, our baking space, science-experimenting space, eating space, etc…This year, especially, I’ve felt the overwhelming need/desire to keep our kitchen table “clean” and “open”–at least to start the day and end the day. It may not last long, but I like the feel, the invitation, an empty table presents. Most of the day it’s covered with all sorts of things, like the possessions you mention. (How I would love some built-ins nearby!!) Yesterday our table was host to Legos, papers, paintbrushes, and various paints, scissors, old christmas cards to reuse/re-make, my books, my daughter’s books, meals, etc. I can live with chaos–My natural state seems to be “organized chaos”–I do like control, but I’ve realized I can only control so much, and it’s not a very healthy position to live in 24/7! Like your sentence, that I completely identify with and love: “It was nice to have some guiding ideas down on paper, but I knew that real life would probably take us in different directions.” Another Family Dinner Project Take-Away, well said by Elise!

    • Thank you Lisa… Reading your reply made me think of how cool it would be to take a photo of the table from above, at the same time everyday, for a certain amount of time. Like that movie, with Harvey Keitel – someone (Harvey?), takes a photo of the street corner every day at the same time? I can’t remember the name of the movie, but that was the plot feature that stood out for me πŸ™‚

      Anyway, well-loved dining room tables are one of the best things in the world. Good for you (and your family), for embracing organized chaos!

      • This is funny – my e-mail won’t send out, but I just got your e-mail with the movie title – thank you! The title is “Smoke” – gotta get it on netflix, soon!

        Also funny to be able to communicate faster via blog comments than e-mail – hmmm…

  2. I try to clear off the table in between projects and meals. Maybe because I’ve read so many shelter magazines and like the blank canvas look of a table that can be used as you say for so many different activities. That would be a good photo, painting or drawing series–the ever changing tablescape.
    The chaos is in my head…..

    • I just replied to Lisa, trying to remember the movie title with the photo series of the street corner every day… You could do that with your table-scape – even better with a quick sketch or painting. Sounds like an art class assignment…

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