Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Family Dinner

I keep a database of all these entries, and, certain that I had written something like this before, I did a search on "dinner." I was surprised at how many entries I had written which included either the topic of dinner, or dinner photos.

Viewers of Anderson Cooper's new show (I am not one, but happened to see it today) have apparently been invited to take a pledge to have one family dinner a week. While this is a great movement, I find it so very strange that anybody has to encourage families to have meals together.

I am a throwback to a former generation, I guess!

When I was growing up, there was no question about whether we would eat together. It was never even a discussion. No matter how uncomfortable meals could be, when my father was in a bad mood, meals together (breakfast and dinner) were just assumed to happen.

Holidays were for the special dinners, when the good china and good silverware came out, when we had the special tablecloth and a fancy dinner. When we at around the dining room table.

(I was going to include a photo here, but my photos are packed up and upstairs, in preparation for the installation of the Pergo....on FRIDAY!!!!)

When we had our own family, there was never a question about whether people would get together for dinner. And at holidays, we joined with grandparents and celebrated.

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When my aunt Barb was in the hospital and often didn't know anybody, the way we communicated with her was through a family dinner.

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When Nora came to visit us, we had a family dinner.

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When our first Brasilian "son," Eduardo, came back for a visit, we had a family dinner.

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I loved it when, this past week, Tom talked about remembering our family dinners, especially all the laughs we had with the big turntable in the middle of the table that was forever knocking over somebody's milk.

So I find that the idea that a television host has to encourage families to eat together once a week is something that makes me very sad.

I think this also is connected with the recent media-created "feud" between Chefs Anthony Bourdain and Paula Deen. Bourdain was talking about how Deen's simple fat/sugar laden recipes were causing the death of Americans. I have watched both chefs and the kind of cooking that Bourdain does is just not done by most people any more.

Go into any supermarket and just look at the percentage of heat-and-serve foods vs the "prepare it yourself" ingredients and while there is probaby more "prepare it yourself," the vast assortment of things that you just have to take home and heat up in order to serve a "home cooked meal" tells me how much people actually cook any more.

Look at commercials that show mom putting frozen blobs on a cookie tray to serve her children "home baked cookies." And that's what they are -- home baked cookies. Everybody knows that an essesntial ingredient of all home made cookies is the love that goes in along with the vanilla and salt. Pillsbury doesn't add the love, and kids are growing up not knowing the difference.

I can remember a lot of unpleasant dinners in my lifetime but many, many more pleasant, fun dinners. I loved nothing more than having too many people squeezed around our dinner table whether for a holiday, or a regular evening dinner. Walt and I still eat dinner together at the same table, and I still cook (though I, too, have been seduced by convenience food sometimes more than one night a week), but I miss those big family dinners. A lot. They were so much more than just eating a meal together.

Oh yeah...and to see if he actually reads this...


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LOL...I just realized that I did do a previous entry on family dinners....one month ago!!


phonelady said...

that steve guy looks so serious my goodness . kudos to family dinners .

Jennifer said...

Family dinners are great. It was not an option for me growing up, and it's not an option now for my own family. I hope it stays that way as our son gets older. We talk about so much, and it just feels like life slows down for that time. Great post.

Mary Z said...

When our girls were at home, we always ate dinner together. No phone calls were allowed to interrupt - even for the parents. Not so much after they started to have after-school jobs, but still whoever was home. And we still do that. And whenever it should happen to be just the six of us (very rarely now), we will sit in the same places - and we smile.

We'll be with John's sister and BIL next week, and one of the big events will be dinner with them, their two sons and all their families. Special!