This is What Happens When You Have Family Dinners

This is What Happens When You Have Family Dinners

We didn’t always have family dinners. That is, meals where the entire family sat together at the same table and ate at the same time.

We started off that way. When the kids were little we HAD to all eat together, obviously so (a) they didn’t kill each other, and (b) so we could make sure they actually ate something.

Later, when the kids got a bit older they would sit with their plates on their laps in the family room watching The Simpsons while we sat in the living room doing the same thing but watching Seinfeld.

But when they REALLY started getting older I realised we were starting to turn into ships passing in the night; part time jobs, friends, going out on weekends – we just weren’t catching up. Then I changed jobs and as I had every Wednesday off, I decided to make a rule. Wednesday and Sunday nights were Family Dinner Nights and everyone had to turn up, park their butts down at 6pm sharp and not only did we eat together but we ate something special.

I started scouring my recipe books and magazines for fun food that I knew we would all like; pulled pork, slow-cooked brisket, ribs, savoury breads, potatoes a million different ways, funky salads and decadent desserts. And when I didn’t have a lot of time we would do make-your-own burgers, steak sandwiches or pizzas where I would just empty the fridge and pantry of condiments, cheeses and toppings and keep it simple. And you know what? Everyone LOVED it.

No one was ever late for dinner. Each week I would be queried: “What are we having?” “What’s for dessert?” And each week I would come up with something new. They must have told their friends cause they started asking if they could come too and there was always an extra one or two at the table stuffing their face as well.

And we talked. We talked and laughed about everything because eating delicious food together made everyone happy. We shared our ups and downs from the week; shitty stuff that happened at work or school. Stories got passed around about current relationships and friendships and we found out more stuff about our kids during those couple of hours twice a week at the table then I’d found out in years.

And now my kids are married and moved out but we all still get together every Sunday night for Family Dinner and the tradition is spreading with my kid’s going to their partner’s families for Family Dinner Nights too.

And a few years ago we added games to the agenda so when the dishes were done we would have more laughs and a few drinks playing stupid games. We made a rule that we would play only games without a whole lot of competition or “winners”, whatever makes us crack up laughing was the best game.

And I hope we continue this tradition until we’re 100.

Just wish someone else would do the dishes…

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