After a trip to Norway, a missionary family of six took on a new tradition of eating dinner by candlelight and noticed some amazing changes.
Homeschooling mom and native New Yorker Kaisa Coats, 33, currently lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with her North Carolina-born husband, Scott Coats, 35, and their four kids. The family has lived “all over the place” owing to mission work including Norway, in 2017, where they came face to face with a different take on family dinnertime.
“That is actually the first place we saw that people use candles a lot for dinner,” Mrs. Coats told The Epoch Times. “I don’t think it’s the tradition ... from what we’ve gathered, I think it’s their lifestyle.”
Reflecting on the experience, Mrs. Coats said that in Norway it just felt so calm and peaceful.
“We would go to dinner on these bases we would be at, and there’s candles on every single table,” she said. “Everyone was fine, calm, so then, about a month ago, my husband said, ‘Let’s try that, I think that’d be really calming and nice for our family.' We started it, and it’s been wonderful.”
Living in their first large home with an intentional dining space, the Coats sit down for dinner together as often as they can by candlelight, using odorless, non-toxic candles. Since they began, Mrs. Coats has noticed some interesting changes in her kids and their family dining dynamic.
“[W]e turn lights off, and it’s calm, and they‘ll sit and talk. They will sit longer because I feel all the distractions go away,” she said. “One thing my kids have always loved to do is go around the table and ask, ’What was your favorite part of the day?‘ They’ll all answer that. But I’ve noticed that since we started doing the candles, everyone will sit and ask me or my husband to come up with questions to go around the table.”
Since they started having dinners by candlelight last December, the kids have been very excited and look forward to more of it. Additionally, they also argue about who is going to blow the candles out at the end, and they take turns doing so.
“I did not expect this to happen, but I love it, and seeing comments honestly makes me emotional,” she told The Epoch Times. “Seeing comments of all these people that are older, 10 or 20 years older than me, saying they love this, this was some of their favorite memories. ... This is going to be a really sweet memory for [our children].”
“When we had our first [child] I was still working part-time,” Mrs. Coats said. “When we had our second, I wanted to be home with them. ... Now that they are a bit older, I can’t imagine not spending their young years with them.”
Through homeschooling, the children “get to point at whatever their interests are [and spend] their time that way.” Mr. and Mrs. Coats also decided, on getting married, to never have a television in their house.
“We have computers, we have laptops ... but it really limits it and makes the focus never on the TV,” Mrs. Coats said. “[The children] choose to do other things, and we encourage them to build and play and do those things. ... We don’t mind them watching a show or two a day, but we do notice a difference, even on the days that they watch nothing. Their behavior, it’s just very steady.”
Mrs. Coats believes there is “an attack on the family unit” and a distraction epidemic in the United States.
“We’re distracted with our phones, we’re distracted with our TVs ... and it’s eating up time that we could be face-to-face with people,” she said. “I would say, even if you’re not with your family, or maybe you don’t have an immediate family, just get out of your comfort zone and find people.”
In sharing their newly formed family tradition around the table, Mrs. Coats wants to remind people that “sitting down and having meals together as a family is so important.”
“[T]he way we live our lives, we have a lot of young people in and out of our home all the time, people come stay with us and have meals with us,” she said.