The Family Dinner: great ways to connect with your kids, one meal at a time by Laurie David, recipes by Kirstin Uhrenholdt:
Lately, there's been a tiny voice in the back of my head telling me that I'm falling short on my job to deliver family dinners. This voice, who is quite the know-it-all, keeps talking about sitting down together every night, getting the husband off the computer, getting the kids to sit and eat their dinner for longer than 5 second bursts. This voice is very annoyingly correct, and although I hate to admit defeat, I probably shouldn't ignore it any longer.
The truth is, family dinners are hard to deliver, at least they are for me. Getting a wholesome homemade meal is challenge enough, but then to add to that clearing and setting the table, making sure everyone is there (and hungry and wants to eat what you made) at the same time and then engaging the family in meaningful conversation are hard things to do 7 days a week. Yes, I would like some cheese with my whine!
When I was growing up, our family had meals together at the dinner table almost every night of the week. This is a nice memory for me, and is something that I had always envisioned doing for our family, once everyone graduated to solid foods. The reality of it is, however, that most nights I do make a wholesome, homemade meal - just the logistics of eating together at the table I can't seem to pull off. The kids do eat quickly, and usually after I set down their plates and start getting mine and DH's plates together, they are done with their meals and off and running. Lots of times, I'll make something different for myself than the rest of the family, or something different for the Bachsters. Often, DH likes to putter on the computer as he eats his supper. And many times, I end up eating by myself, because I'm rather poky at getting my dinner together in time to join everyone else. So, I might sit by myself at the table and read while I eat. Maybe I might even read a book such as The Family Dinner.
I loved this book, and now that I've read it from cover to cover, I can't wait to start some new traditions around the Bach house, traditions that involve eating together as a family every night. I'm inspired by what I've read in the book and I know that it can be done - it just takes a little planning and maybe some help from the family. But it is so worth it in the end, for all the great conversations you can have over a delicious meal, the closeness you can have with your kids, the security in knowing that we are all present and connected with each other. It's hard to achieve these things if a family doesn't sit down and share supper with each other.
The book has chapters on how to make family supper time work, fun games you can play at the dinner table, and lots of recipes for meals that will please everyone. There are lots of pictures, great quotes (oh, I just love quotes!) and stories from Mario Batali, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Dr. Maya Angelou, to name a few. Written by Laurie David, an environmental leader who produced An Inconvenient Truth - I really applaud her interspersing lots of earth-friendly advice into the book (like how to start a compost pile, or the suggestion to use cloth napkins instead of paper). I also thought her chapter on the family dinner after divorce was so honest and from-the-heart. The author's tone throughout the book is casual, friendly and honest....I felt like I should be sitting at her table having Taco Tuesdays along with her family!
As I mentioned, the book has given me new inspiration to start having more family dinner times. Really, getting the food there is the hardest part, and I've got that part down. I just need to work on the last bit, the logistics. But that should be the easy part, and I've made a resolution (I know, it's not New Year's) to get started asap. I've also been thinking about inviting some of our extended family over on a regular basis (there's a chapter on that, too), now that we have more family in town. It doesn't have to be 100% perfect 100% of the time, but the important thing is that we'll be together, eating good food and enjoying each other's company, like a family should.
What are your family dinners like? Do you & your family eat together at the dinner table every night? What was your family tradition when you were growing up?