Families are interesting, unique, and surprisingly predictable. Too bad we no longer make them a priority.
It has been a focused-on-family month for me.
- Rori and I spent 3 weeks in Florida, interacting with my family;
- We are in the midst of planning weddings for both of our boys who are engaged to wonderful girls with great families;
- This month I have read two lengthy novels written from the perspective of an individual about her/his life in her/his family. (The novels are Freedom: A Novel and Cutting for Stone, both excellent reads, but about very different families).
Growing up I thought every family was like mine. Dad worked, running his own business. Mom worked, running the household. I was the youngest of four. We lived in the suburbs and went to church every Sunday and ate dinner together every night.
Dinner was family time. We ate together every night at 7:10 PM. We ate in the dining room, by candlelight, with clothe napkins, silver, and china. We held the chair for my Mom and sister before the men sat down. We held hands for the blessing. Dad served our plates, you ate what you were served. We passed things around, not across, the table.
We never answered the phone or the door during dinner (if cell phones, texting, ipods, and ipads had been invented then, they would have been banned from the table). The TV was off.
You did not leave the table until everyone finished eating. You did not leave the table without asking to be excused and until you were excused.
During diner we talked. We had adult conversations. Dad never mentioned work. We did not gossip. During dinner we would talk current events (no sports) and play mind-enrichment games (Password, Twenty Questions, etc).
Every family has their traditions. Dinner together was one of ours.
Dinner time was one of the glues which held and continues to hold my family together.
My family is not perfect, but it is my family. We four siblings are as different as night and day, yet we manage to get along. I think dinner together made all the difference in the world.
Perhaps it is time that we tell bosses, coaches, and friends that dinner time is a sacred event for our family.
The family that eats together, grows together (in more ways than one).
Enjoy dinner with your family tonight. You will not regret it!
You family diner time and ours was remarkably similar – except we ate at 6:00PM – SHARP (and I don’t think we had china). It was indeed incredibly formative time for us and consequently a keystone in our family Structure. After Alice and I married and established our new family it became the same for us.
My perspective on family meal time was given depth and meaning decades later when I was running SHIM. One of my board members was Rabbi Ken Stern from Beth El Congregation in Mt. Lebanon. As we shared a meal at a board meeting once, I was asking him why he wore a yarmulke to the table. Ken explained that the faithful Jewish male always covers his head in the presence of the Holy — and that breaking bread together as God’s people was indeed a time of holiness.
I knew there was reaaon we were good frienda. It began with dinner in our families of organ.
I’m not sure whether it was the orderliness of our meals so much as the engaged conversation which was important.