Our nine-year-old Nicholas has been interested in home decorating since he was about four years old. I often get frustrated with his desire to set up things that are merely decorative, have no useful purpose, and just get in my way! I am even more irritated when he wants to buy things just for decorating. I like our home to look clean and pleasant, but I feel we have enough stuff around without cluttering up the place with decorations.
However, I have learned that sometimes decorations help to motivate the family–myself included–to keep a space cleaner and neater, so that we can appreciate the decorations instead of losing them in the clutter or letting them be obscured by dust. The dining table centerpiece is a good example.
Our dining room is in the center of our home. It is probably the room in which all of us spend the greatest number of our waking hours. This makes the dining table a convenient place to set things, especially things you want other family members to see or things you want to look at while eating, and then the things don’t always get picked up again.
Once Nicholas had seen centerpieces on other people’s dining tables, of course he wanted to put some decorations on ours. I was annoyed: I need that space in the middle of the table to spread out my newspaper! All right, even I could see that the decorations (no matter how odd, selected with a preschooler’s taste) were prettier than the newspaper, but let’s be practical here…. We had several years of shaky compromise, during which I set some rules about what can go on the table (no toys with wheels, no stuffed animals, nothing that has been on the floor and not been washed yet…) and I also agreed to put away my newspaper when not in use instead of leaving it on the table between meals. Later, Nicholas asked me not to read at the table during family dinners, and I realized I actually had been kind of a jerk about that. Now I only read when I am eating alone, and the centerpiece helps me remember.
This is our current centerpiece. The carnations were salvaged from the Pentecost flower arrangements at church. The carafe was found in our basement when we moved in, two houses ago. But the fake fruit and the doily are things Nicholas bought with his allowance because he wanted to have them for decorative purposes. I think the idea of fake fruit is kind of tacky…but I think this arrangement looks nice. Compared to the plain empty formica table, I think the table with centerpiece is more appealing.
Letting my kid set up our dining table centerpiece works for me!