This I Believe

erin - Santa Monica, California
Entered on June 20, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: community, family

On any given night at 6:30 a passerby could look through my kitchen window and see my entire family begin to sit down to dinner. I am one in a family of five. My brother, sister, mom, dad, and I, are all very different from each other. We each have our own daily schedules that consist of very different activities, from Irish dancing lessons, to PTA meetings, and swim team practices. Nevertheless, every night, day in and day out, between my brother’s club water polo practices, my journalism paste-ups, and my dad’s grueling meetings we continue to sit down to a home-cooked meal together, at our large circular wood table that seems a little too big for our small kitchen. I believe in our family dinners and have come to appreciate the ritual.

As soon as I get home from school I immediately escape up the spiral staircase that leads to my lofty bedroom. When younger, I would complain when, at promptly 6:30pm each night, my mom would yell up “dinner time, you have to come down for at least half an hour.”

My dad schedules business trips so he can come home in time for our family dinners, and all three of us are expected to drop what we’re doing so that we can all eat together. My family is not religious, and my parents are by no means strict, so this consistent tradition used to seem uncharacteristically strict in our laid-back household.

Now I understand the importance of a family dinner. I leave for school while my sister is still asleep, and after my brother has already left. One or both of my parents are gone working out at their masters swim team. This trend continues after school where we all pick up a set of crazy schedules. Dinner is our time together.

My generation has barely known what it is like to live in a peaceful country. In this time of violence, both real and on TV and in video games, it is more important now than ever, that every American family sits down to dinner together.

Having a time, even as little as 30 minutes, to all sit down and talk about our day and what is going on in our life has been the key ingredient to keeping my family close and maintaining the ideal American family-values intact. My family consists of five very different people with five different walks of life, but at 6:30pm every night were all doing the exact same thing. And, through our kitchen window every night you can see more than a family sitting down to dinner, you can see a tight-knit group that will love and respect one another for the rest of their lives, and three kids that have grown up with the paramount American morals.