Growing up, my sister and I had matching little, blue, plastic tray tables that would sit conveniently on the floor, in front of the television for meal or snack time. They were fantastic. They had deep pockets on the side that held all of my coloring books and crayons (and an occasional, stray french fry or two). My Mom worked hard as a single Mom during the day and went to graduate school at night so eating at the table was a rare, foreign experience we just didn’t partake in very often. Not that I missed it at the time- what kid wouldn’t love a happy meal on a blue tray watching Saved by the Bell?
When Rich and I got together, it became apparent that his family did things very differently. Meal time was sacred- a time to cook and fellowship; not for syndicated television and a hamburger. I knew that I wanted to fuse these two parts of our lives into the life we built together but it took a little while to figure out how to go about it.
We really believe, as a family, that the art of family meals is lost. There is so much that goes on in both of our days that to come home, order a pizza and zone out sounds like the most relaxing thing to do- when in actuality, all it really does is make us feel more disconnected than before. The simple act of putting ingredients together, sticking it on the stove, setting the table and sitting down causes a shift in thought that no television show can provide. Even if we’re too tired to speak, we know that something greater’s at work within us because of our choice to silence all other things and just be with each other.
This is not to say that we don’t have our fair share of blue tray moments- which we’ve found to be necessary at times. But we try to be intentional about it- choose a film or show we’d both enjoy together, create a menu based on what we’re watching, etc. When it comes down to it, the blue tray days are FUN. We’ve learned that we need a little bit of both in our lives in order to function.
Today was one of those days where I thought a pizza delivery might be necessary. My feet are swollen double the size, my back aches, Rich had a dentist appointment at 4:30, and then a Human Relations meeting for our town at 7 which didn’t leave much time to make anything-not that I was motivated to, anyway. But, by the grace of God, I persevered. I put on some comfy slippers, took some lemons and a box of spaghetti out of the pantry and whipped up a simple pasta dish, thanks to my friend Deb, that didn’t take any longer than 30 minutes. (Modifications if you’re so inspired to do the same: I used half the amount of lemon juice she called for-I love lemon, but Rich gets overwhelmed by it and they were very juicy. I also used half pecorino and half parmesan, lots of black pepper and added about 20 stalks of young, thin roasted asparagus that folded and twisted around the fork just like the spaghetti. If I felt daring, I would have substituted the heavy cream with some mascarpone cheese but I would like to see my favorite black skirt again sometime before fall.) And you know what? After all of the bubbling and grating and slicing, I didn’t feel so tired anymore. After watching him take away all the dishes and scrub the counter, I was feeling almost rejuvenated. So much so, that I think I’ll take my dessert into the living room. I might even use the tray.