Bonnie Bing

A place at the table nourishes your soul

When people sit down together at a table to eat, they get more than nourishment.
When people sit down together at a table to eat, they get more than nourishment. Getty Images

Lately I’ve read several articles about the importance of family members sitting down at the table for a meal. Many advantages from this ritual are listed, and the term “a place at the table” is used time and again.

While most people I talked to about the phrase say it reminds them of meals with their families, it brings to my mind a sense of belonging, of being welcome in any group, at any table. Sometimes even when there isn’t an actual table.

It would appear some presidential candidates are realizing they won’t have a place at the table in the near future. But we all feel that sometimes. After all, in some cases we have to earn a place at the table. And getting to the head of the table also can be a struggle.

Going back to the good old days when people did sit down together at a table to eat, they got more than nourishment. Ask any of your friends where they sat at the dinner table, and without hesitation, they’ll tell you exactly where they always sat. If you’re a young person, I hope you too have a spot, your spot, where you land for a meal at least once in a while — and that it’s not in front of the television.

“I was always in the same place for meals. Not a question. I sat between mom and my brother George,” said my pal Joyce Gregory. “Always, and it never changed. I didn’t change until I left home, and I was the first one to leave.”

My friend Robin Macy smiled just remembering her place at the family table. “I sat across from Mama and between Dad and my sister,” she said. “At your place is where you are beloved and included. A place at the table is your greatest honor.”

The dinner table is your first social platform. I can remember saving a topic, a secret or a happening until it could be shared at the table. I had a chance to sharpen my debate skills because as teenagers my older brother and I agreed on nothing. I realize now there were points of view, announcements and discussions that wouldn’t have taken place if we had been eating in front of the television.

Studies show that children who eat at least three meals a week sitting at a table with loved ones are less likely to smoke, do drugs or have an eating disorder. They get better grades and develop better table manners.

But this discussion isn’t about table etiquette – although there is plenty to say on that subject – it’s about having a place in a group, at home, at work, where you feel a part of something. Something that gives you a sense of belonging, of being important, and offers a feeling of security.

That said, sitting at your place at the table, ask yourself: What do I bring to the table?

Reach Bonnie Bing @