The Truth Board

A Blog by the Editors of
The Truth About the Fact: An International Journal of Literary Nonfiction

My Photo
Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

The Truth About the Fact: A Journal of Literary Nonfiction is an international journal committed to the idea that excellence in the art of letters can play a vital role in transforming the planet we share.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Chow Down

Close your eyes and picture the family dinner: Mrs. Jones, her strand of pearls loosely dangling from her neck and her slightly dirtied red and white checkered apron, the “old man” in a suit and tie just home from work, the two kids all spiffed up patiently waiting to be served, and an old fashioned meal steaming on the table. This may have been the picture of dinner in 1950, but in the last fifty years things have drastically changed. In between long work days (for both parents), soccer practice, dance recitals, PTO meetings and all of the other stresses of life, who can find the time to sit down for dinner (let alone cook one)? With so many things going on in the modern day family, getting everyone together can be a scheduling miracle of epic proportions. With such full plates, dinner together is often the first thing to go. Unfortunately, when we sacrifice this daily routine we are also sacrificing familial relationships and children’s well-being.

Even on nights when the food is fast, the talk is cheap and everyone has someplace they’d rather be, a meal together anchors the family. In fact, studies show that a regular meal together is one of the most important things to do for a child. Thanks to a study done at Rutgers University in New Jersey, we know just how important a shared meal is: the more often families eat together, the less likely kids are to smoke, drink, do drugs, become depressed, develop eating disorders, consider suicide; and the more likely they are to do well in school, delay having sex, eat their vegetables, learn big words and know which fork to use. It’s amazing how much depends on dinner.

The daily dinner is not about the gourmet food; it’s about creating and valuing family relationships. Growing up, both of my parents worked full time, my brother and I were involved in numerous sports year round, and a majority of my free time was not spent at home. Somehow we still managed to sit down as a family for a meal at least five times a week. A lot of times that meal included quick and easy spaghetti, greasy take-out, or sometimes it wasn’t even a dinner but a Sunday morning breakfast. Again it’s not what you’re eating that matters, whether it’s meatloaf and potatoes or eggs and bacon, being together is what’s important. No matter how we did it, we always made time for each other. Thought provoking and intellectual conversations don’t need to be on the menu. All that’s necessary is room for the whole family to feel comfortable. Heck, in my house, a typical dinner includes my Dad and brother playing fart games, me feeding the dog under the table and my mom giving us all an icy glare while trying to conceal her laughter.

It wasn’t until I left for college that I realized how important these meals were to me. Come dinner time not only did I miss the non-dorm food, I actually missed knowing what joke my Dad had played on his boss that day, I missed not knowing how my brother’s basketball game went and I missed telling my mom the gossip of the day. I also began to see how those family meals built the foundation for my relationships with them. While most of the people around me began losing contact with their parents as they grew older and became busier, I actually became closer to mine. That time we shared together in the midst of the storm we call life helped to keep us close. That time every night allowed me to become comfortable to the point that I could share my problems with them, and I suspect it helped them better understand me.

Eating is a daily habit we can’t live without, and while our culture continues in the fast lane it’s this habit that should continue to slow us down. It provides us with the opportunity to stop, catch our breath, grab a bite and spend a little much needed time with our loved ones. Getting everyone to the table is a hard battle, but one worth fighting. Whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner –take the time to carve out family time. Take a few minutes out of the hustle and bustle of life for those most important to you. Put some food on the table, pull up some chairs, turn off the TV, ignore the phone and chow down with those you love.

-Alex Mead


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home