What is mealtime like in your home? Our house is crazy, slightly obnoxious actually, but we eat together most evenings. Sometimes, it’s both of us with a few of the boys and a girlfriend or two. Occasionally, it is the mister and me, alone. But, more often than not, it is some combination of the eight of us along with assorted friends, girlfriends, boyfriends, boxer puppies, grandmas, stray cats, etc.
Our six kids now range from seventeen to twenty-three. They really do come and go depending on work schedules, class schedules, trips, friends, etc. And, yes, we are the Brady Bunch. Three boys are mine and one boy and two girls are his. We don’t pay “Alice” to clean or cook for us. They clean their own rooms and do their own laundry but the cooking, well, I keep that for myself. I love to cook and experiment in the kitchen.
After fifteen years of raising these kids and feeding the eight of us, fewer things rank as high on my list of priorities as mealtime. It has been our moment to freeze, have conversations, relive the high and low points of each day and basically, tease, annoy and love the heck out of each other.
Most of our truly valuable conversations have taken place around our dining room table. Dropping out of college? Moving to a new state? Walking away from a relationship or starting a new one? Adopting a puppy? Changing majors? It’s always around the dinner table.
I remember dinners at my grandparent’s houses as well. Large families. Lots of relatives. Several generations. Everyone talking at once. Lots of love! Now that all of my grandparents have passed away, times have changed. We live in different states. We have busy lives. But, those memories of family dinners still remain.
I fear that today’s kids are missing the dinner table. Family meals. Long conversations over coffee. It used to be the time to enjoy home-cooking, to catch up, to hear about each family member’s day. In Europe, the mid-day meal offers that chance to congregate, chat, share stories of the morning, discuss problems, find solutions, reconnect.
Where has the family table gone?
It seems to have disintegrated into fast food consumed in cars or snacks from the vending machines. Take out. I know several families who skip the dinner table consistently in favor of movies, video games, cell phones, texting and microwaves? I say, “Let’s bring back the family dinner table!”
Let’s connect and have “real” conversations that don’t include a character count. Let’s model compassion to our children and spend time each evening reconnecting our hearts and souls after long days in the world. Let’s sit around the table and dissect the day’s events. Let’s connect through food and coffee and laughter or tears.
I’m not the perfect parent. None of us are. We all have our short comings and we all have our priorities. My priority is to settle down most evenings and share a meal with the people I love most. A loud, crazy, obnoxious meal but a meal, nonetheless, at our own dining room table. My priority is to continue to instill the family meal-time ritual into my kids so that one day, I can be the grandma at their family dinners and I can say I helped to create this moment.
How do you feel about the family dinner table? I would love to hear...