I’m a 20-something living in an English Basement apartment with a friend from college. Our home furnishings are a mash-up of our families’ hand-me-downs, Craigslist finds, and IKEA furniture. I spend my days researching, reading, and writing about tablecloths, table settings, seating arrangements, centerpieces, and it’s left me with a longing feeling.

When I was growing up, my family made a pretty good effort to eat dinner together, at the table, at least a few nights a week. We were all busy with various activities, but eating dinner together was something we all seemed to enjoy. It was the one time a day where we were all in the same place at the same time, and we had some pretty amazing (and some pretty ridiculous) conversations around our table. In fact, a lot of my memories of my family are from conversations we had around the dinner table.

Now that I’m older and living away from my family, I realize how much I miss those times. My “dinner table” in my apartment doubles as my desk, and we rarely eat off of it, unless you count scarfing down lunch in front of my e-mail. Meal times now are generally spent in front of the TV, vegging out after a long day of work. When I’m lucky enough to have company for dinner, we usually sit on the couch or stand in the kitchen.

You really don’t realize how much you appreciate something until it’s gone. Lucky for me, I had this particular realization very early in life, and it’s definitely something I’m going to change. When I get my own apartment or house and start a family, I’m going to make an effort to have family dinner around the table. I’ll promise to change my tablecloth and table linens for each new season, and I’ll respect my table as more than just a chunk of wood. My dinner table will be both a piece of art, and a gathering place for my family to converse and bond.

I think it’s good to have goals, and I’m definitely making a family-friendly dinner table one of mine.