Tension at the Dinner Table

It seems a bit of an exaggeration to suggest that there could be any tension at the dinner table; however, when you pit 5 people together over the course of a meal, sparks are bound to fly.

Having not seen each other all day, the family meets at the dinner table and small talk begins. ‘How was your day?’ ‘Could you pass the salad bowl please’ and other casual dialogues are exchanged. However, each person seated at the dinner table is harbouring some issue that they do not wish to impart. The stresses of day to day living, decision making, knowledge of sensitive information, issues over long lasting differences are all seated besides the members of the dinner table. The tension is palpable, but as long as the food is good, silence prevails as does peace.

However, to me, the dinner table is far too uncomfortable. After watching many a ‘TV’ show, I have come to the realization that I am not alone in my discomfort. From thanksgiving issues in Gossip Girl, to Chrismukkah dinners in the OC, dinner signals the start of dramatic confrontations and shocking revelations. So, the question is, how to deal with the tension.

Want to have a meaningful conversation? Think again.

  1. Enjoy the food –> quite simply, immerse yourself in the focal aspect of the dinner table, the food. Use your Table knife to cut through your food and not the tension
  2. Calm your nerves –> the people sitting around you are not new to you, so you know what buttons they can or cannot push. Don’t react. Roll with the punches, smile, and ask; “Could you pass me the salt please.” beware, do not let them add salt to your wounds, only to your meal.
  3. Keep it simple –> No, Ronald Raegan was wrong, the great changes do not begin at the dinner table. The enjoyment of food begins at the dinner table and a few moments of peace with members of our families. So do not spring up any outlandish ideas and/or revelations.
Think of Dinner like a cinema session, the other members of the audience will get annoyed if you speak. So hold your silence and for goodness sake, keep your phone on silent.
Bon Appétit

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