December 17, 2017

How Often Do You Eat Dinner As A Family?

By Lillian Sanderson


We always had family dinners when I was a child.  This was the era of moms at home and dads working until dinner hour.  The five of us sat in the dining room every night and ate a nice homemade dinner of meat, potato, and vegetable.  There was also a steaming hot pot of tea and bread and butter; and always a dessert.


How long did dinner take?  I cannot help but smile thinking about the length of time we would often sit there long after we were done eating.  Being quite a bit younger than my sisters, sometimes I didn’t know much about the conversation, but I would never leave my seat for fear of missing something good.    There were silly things that we often did, and I have no idea how they started.  One was the merry-go-round that was each of us humming a tone and rising from our seat, until it was a continuous range of musical sounds with the silly people becoming the carousel as we bobbed up and down.  This always ended in laughter.  I absolutely loved it! 


Friends, who would drop in or stop to pick up one of us to go out, would usually join us at the table for a little while, or wind up staying for the evening.   Living in a house full of women, my dad always liked it when boys came by to see any of us and he could talk sports with them, much to our embarrassment.


My mother was never one to hurry to clear the table; and she always corrected me years later at my own dinner table when I rushed to clean up the dishes too soon.  


Now that my children are adults with their own families, thinking about our family dinners on the ordinary nights, not just holidays, I regret that I did not always do the regular relaxed nightly meals with them like in my childhood home.


I don’t think it matters who cooks the meal; it can be carry-out or sandwiches the kids help make, but I really do think that aiming to have a sit-down, conversational, no fights, dinner time as a family is a way to make everyone closer.  Once everyone in the family gets used to the idea, they will want to be there, just like I did when I was a kid, so they don’t miss out on something good.


Lillian is a midwestern mom of 5 grown children and a grandmother of 10. 


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