We have a rule in our house. Actually we have many. Show kindness to others, think of the other person first, put your napkin on your lap, never go to sleep angry, etc etc. But there is one rule that doesn't necessarily govern behavior or sharpen one's character. It does however promote a sense of peace in a household. What is it?
Don't leave junk on the dining room table.
No mail, no clutter, no books, no misc. items of any kind. The dining room table is a sacred space where family shares meals, discussions and laughter. Somewhere along the line in my motherhood-wife-artist life I learned this rule and I have been very strict about keeping it. I have discovered that when preserving this space you can let other rooms slide. Like the living room. You can have a few stacks of clutter in the living room and it just doesn't seem like a big deal as long as the dining room table is kept neat.
Try having a nice family dinner with all your tax documents stacked next to the caesar salad. Someone at the table will have an underlying sense of stress during dinner. This can effect everyone at the table like ripples in a pond. Other items can have similar effects especially if they are a symbol of something that needs to be done, like stacks of mail or bills. That is one of my other rules. Tend to mail the moment it comes (very helpful at keeping the dining table rule). Anyway, typically this rule is followed religiously. If something ends up on the table and dinner is looming, I may resort to putting the stack on one of the dining chairs (out of sight) but for the most part that is a last resort.
Until this weekend.
There is stuff on our table. It comes on the heels of the lovely Thanksgiving dinner that my husband cooked. We went through the holiday with a table that changed personality with every meal. Fresh flowers (for my birthday), yummy french toast one morning, turkey stuffed with oranges for t-day, and of course left overs. But the end of the holiday meant that we had to get serious and that is where the clutter on our table comes in.
I'll admit that I willingly allowed it. Because it was a different kind of clutter. It symbolizes a sort of family change, the kind that one can celebrate. A rite of passage. A positive sort of deadline.
The college application.
The thick manilla envelope stuffed with application, essay, and various other written hoops Daniel had to jump through officially went into the mail yesterday. Out went the final portion of a long line of tasks completed in hopes that UMD will think that Daniel is all that and act accordingly with an acceptance letter in February.
There is still college stuff on our table. College PR from other schools. Letters and offers and a few more applications that need to be filled out for Daniel's "back up" schools. But the big one, the one we are all hoping for is off the table...
and in the mail.