The Dinner Bell

The Dinner Bell


I have distinct memories surrounding the cow bell that hung on the back porch of my childhood home. I can still hear the deep clang calling us home on balmy summer nights, signaling to my siblings and I that dinner was served, and we had better hurry. Sometimes, when we heard the bell, we’d be down by the beaver pond, or up in the branches of the neighbor’s tree fort. Sometimes we’d be picking raspberries along the path, or wading by the stream in the woods. Wherever we were adventuring, the bell always brought us home without question. It was a sound of comfort, a familiar sound, a sound that meant we were leaving our childish play until the next day to run home for a meal that would fill our bellies and send us into a restful slumber.

I began utilizing a dinner bell in my own home recently. It began somewhat out of necessity after the usual calling, “dinnertime!” yielded little or no response at all. I realized that maybe the sound of my kids’ names being called to dinner lacked meaning. Maybe, after hearing their names used multiple times each day, the sound of my voice once again calling them to dinner failed to incite enthusiasm. By the time dinner rolled around, I had worn out their names such that the otherwise rallying (or so I hoped) cry to dinner was falling on deaf ears.

So, I bought a dinner bell. It’s not a cow bell, but it has a sweet clear chime that, when rung, can be heard throughout the house. And sure enough, when I shake it ever so gently, the little  chime sends Claire and John Francis running. The sweet sound has quickly trained their ears to know that when it is rung, dinner is waiting and they come unhesitatingly - the toys are abandoned, the water hose is turned off, the scooters are halted.

Perhaps overtime, beyond just a call for sustenance, the dinner bell will also be associated with the comfort that it rightly entails - a warm meal prepared by nurturing hands fostering a culture of love.

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