The family that eats together stays together
My family has always been busy. Between theater rehearsals, football games, choir practice, and work, we always had somewhere to be. We mastered the art of juggling our schedules to make sure everyone was in the right place at the right time. Living 35 minutes from school, my brothers and I saw each other mostly in the car and in the morning and the evening (if, of course, we weren’t sleeping to try to rest up for the next busy day). There was barely any time to sit back and relax on school nights.
Yet, in the midst of the hustle and bustle, we managed to spare a few moments to have dinner together. Sitting in our usual seats around the dining room table, we spent sacred and special moments of family time. It was a crucial part of my family’s relationship. When our schedules allowed it, we would sit for hours sharing laughs or challenges that we faced. It was undoubtedly my favorite part of the day. It was a time to take off the pressures of school and extracurricular activities and to enjoy each other’s company.
A recent study by The Welch’s Kitchen Table Report on families with children under the age of 18 found some encouraging results about modern families’ dining habits. Some people would have believed that family mealtime is something from a past era; however research shows that 71 percent of those interviewed eat together as a family as often as, if not more than, when the children were younger. Eighty-four percent of those people stated that eating meals together was one of their favorite times of the day.
It is inspiring to see that the busy American culture is still taking the time to eat together. All around the world, people understand the importance of coming together to share food and family time. One of my favorite sayings in Italian is, “La cucina piccola fa una casa grande” which means “A little kitchen makes a great home.”
Gathering and eating together has been ingrained in Christianity since its beginning. Mealtime was a key component in building community, sharing food, and the act of prayer. Even the Eucharist, an incredibly important part of our faith, is a holy meal of thanksgiving and unity. Meals help to nurture our faith tradition.
All grown up now and living four hundred miles away from my parents and brothers, I always look forward to heading back to the middle of nowhere Minnesota and sharing a meal. How I cherish the times that we are all together! We still have our typical spots at the dining room table. Mom still makes the best home-cooked meals. And before we start to eat, we still bless the food and the gift of our time together.
If you don’t do so already, I encourage you to take the time and eat as a family. Even a couple times a week can make a world of difference.