Monday, June 25, 2007

Grace at the Dining Table

Having been born to a large family, more or less, I know what it is to be noisy and loud.

We are 6 kids, and only 1 girl proved to be a tough lot to handle. And yet, despite the

seemingly impossible feat, my mother was able to discipline all of us, to what we are now.


And yes, the times have changed. My sister, who now have 2 girls and 2 boys, would ask

my mom, “How did you handle us back then?”, meaning 5 boys and 1 girl? Once call,

and comes the lad. You hear your name, and you come near. That’s not altogether true now.


And when it comes to food, you know the appetite of boys. Not to mention that we have

other laborers who stay with us, and dine with us. Roughly, that would be about 12 knights

around the circular table. Yap, literally, it is a round table. A huge one.


Growing in the provinces is in itself a blessing far beyond what growing in the cities can be.

I don’t despise those families and kids who have only the cities as their root and origin.

But I find that you naturally have a big park to stroll along; you own the rivers and the seas.

The fishponds and the rice fields are your playgrounds. The moon and the stars light the dark.

The crickets and frogs are your minstrels at night. The rain brings you the coolness and dampness

that welcomes the fog and dew, and aids in the growing of flora and flourishing of fauna –

mainly for the consumption of the village folks, whose main staple consists of fresh fish

and vegetables. Meat is served now and then. Chicken is usually aplenty. Which is why a fridge

is not needed; if you have one, it is considered a luxury. You’d have to wake up as early as

2am to be able to avail of these fresh produce from the sea or rivers, when fishermen haul in

their catch during the night into the shore, sort them out, before driving them to the market.

You usually have the advantage of buying at the cheapest price and getting the freshest lot.


So you have food at the table day in and day out.

Fresh food in abundance.

Nature’s fresh produce daily.


Well, that is not always the case. There are times when there is not much produce,

or that it can’t be got, as in typhoons, and the plantation is ravaged by strong winds and flood.

We have our memories of times when food is scarce. Or even when it is abundant, money isn’t.


And yet, this our parents have driven deep and hard into our heads. They’ve hammered this

into our way of life, into our very being.


Eat at the dining table.

Eat together.


And when you swallow that morsel of food, think not only of yourself – think of others!

What does this tell us? What has this taught us?


  1. We share the food with those who ate with us at the table, family member or not.
  2. In abundance or scarcity, you have equal share of food.
  3. We eat only at the table – no other place.


This, in itself, is already a form of discipline. And as I bring this into remembrance, to be honest,

not all of which are pleasant, I bring honor to my parents. They’ve done a great job. I’ll do as they did.

I already am. Hopefully, one day, my kids will appreciate what I’m doing now, especially when they,

in turn, raise their own families.

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