by Suzanne Reisler Litwin
Recently, a dear friend asked me to sit at her table for a fund raising event. She had purchased a table for 10 people and asked my husband and I to join her group. We have always supported her cause and were delighted to be asked to attend.
This wonderful, kind gesture got me thinking about where and when this request started.
I’m quite certain it started some time in nursery or kindergarten school. I tried to remember when I was first welcomed to sit at a table with new friends. Perhaps we were coloring or gluing papers together. Those were simpler times.
While growing up, the next tables I sat at were at birthday parties with friends. If you got to sit next to the birthday girl or boy, you were stylin! If you got an icing rosette from the birthday cake you were a princess or prince in the Queen or King’s court. Royalty seating and musical chairs was the fashion then.
The tables to follow were in schools during lunch time. Those were more carefully selected and invitations were specific. Not always the friendliest and forgiving of seating situations. Who you sat next to depicted who your friends were and weren’t. These were more complicated seating times.
The next sets of tables were strategically placed. Cruising or lounging tables to be exact. In bars and clubs with friends drinking and listening to music. When a stranger would approach our tables, you knew something was up. These tables were heavily guarded and reserved.
Mr. + Mrs. Litwin – Table #12. Many table seating cards were given to me over the following 20 years. Perhaps for engagement parties, weddings, bar/bat mitzvahs, anniversaries, and birthday celebrations. Now where you were sitting and with whom wasn’t your choice. You had to get along with your table mates. Discussions about “Where are you sitting?” Or, “What’s your table number?” were quickly determined. Safety was now in your table number, with or without friends.
Many kitchen and dining tables have been filled with friends and family over the years. Silly table seating cards have been placed and replaced. Time has passed and so have the simpler days. Some missing table cards and table seats are now sadly vacant.
Now, I have been asked to sit at a friend’s table for a fund raising event. This is another graduation to the next type of table. The invite to join others in helping a cause comes at a very adult and sophisticated time.
It parallels the collective need to help others and the glory of time solidified friendships.
I suppose it takes a certain amount of time at tables to make endearing friends with whom you have glued, partied, ate, drank, cried, and celebrated with.
1. Ask a special someone to come sit at your table. It will make their world a little more inviting and wonderful. Inviting is about sharing the warmth and caring.
2. Be alert to recognize that some people are alone and need to be brought into your fold. Encourage them to be with you and to sit at your table.
3. Realize the value and importance of your friendships. What we do together with our friends and family might seem brief as in a lunch date. It is truly greater and more meaningful. Time together compounds quickly into months and years. The passage of time with friends and family is a journey of love – embrace and treasure this.
4. Sitting at a table with friends and family is not just about the food. It’s about the exchange and connection. The food is just the via. Although, some foods do invoke memories and history, take the time to celebrate and relish this connection. The importance is to bring people together, just not eating.
5. Now is now. Live in the moment. The next time you are sitting at a table with friends and/or family really connect. Listen intently to what people are saying. Enjoy the moment for that moment. Life is fleeting, so make this time together count.
6. The next time you invite guests to your home or set the table for your family, make it personal. Set the table beautifully with special place cards. Write out the names of your guests in a creative way. Let people know that they are personally welcomed to sit, eat, and celebrate life with you.
Suzanne Reisler Litwin is an author/writer/columnist/educator. She contributes every Monday morning to the West Island Blog.
She is an instructor at Concordia University in The Centre for Continuing Education. Suzanne is a freelance contributor to The Suburban newspaper. She is the author of the children’s book, The Black Velvet Jacket. She lives in Montreal, Canada with her 3 children, Allyn, Taylor, and Duke and her husband Laurie. Suzanne contributes regularly to West Island Blog under her column Keeping it Real. Please visit her website www.suzannereislerlitwin.com to read more of her published articles, books, and poetry.