The Importance of Family Dinners

Jessica - Fairfax
Entered on September 23, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
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This I Believe-The Importance of Family Dinners

Ah, there’s nothing like a steaming plate of pasta and meatballs to finish off a days work, of course, the best part being the company of a loving family. While today it seems many American households view family dinnertime as secondary to homework, social life, and personal business, I believe it to be a family tradition of mine that has helped shape my life. Though I often viewed it a nuisance, I’m so thankful that my parents instilled the sense of family togetherness into my life through our traditions and conversations revolving around the dinner table.

Ever since I can remember, my parents have made elaborate meals especially for dinner. My dad comes from a large Italian family, and pasta and “gravy” seems as vital to life as water. Though there are only five members of my family, every dinner consisted of a main coarse, salad, bread, veggies and whatever else went with the meal du jour. There at that table, we discussed everything. Serious matters, jokes, stories and anything else imaginable were a topic of conversation. Often, we’d sit at the table an hour past everyone was done with their meal still in the middle of conversation.

As I entered middle school, these family dinners became a pain more than a blessing. I began hanging out with friends a lot more, but my social life seemed to be interrupted by my dad making sure I was home by 7:00 for dinnertime. I realized more and more that many of my friends did not have this tradition. I became resentful of my parent’s adherence to this silly dinnertime. “I’ll grab something at the mall,” I’d say. However, my efforts to skip dinners more often than not proved futile. I soon began to rush through dinners while my cell phone vibrated next to my plate. Though I appreciated my parent’s effort to prepare the meal, I couldn’t wait to get out of my house and meet up with my friends.

When my older brother went off to college my junior year in high school, our family dinner dynamic somewhat changed. Though I missed his sarcastic comments and overall presence at the dinner table, our family togetherness still flourished due to our meal times together. It was during these last years of high school that I once again began to appreciate our family dinners. With college looming around the corner, the time spent with my family became precious to me. I would take notice of my friends never having meals with their family and using their own money to buy cheap, fattening fast food. I was grateful for the past 18 years of home-cooked meals and began to see that impact that those dinners together had on the closeness of my family.

Now that I’m in college, I severely missed those home cooked meals with my family. But the memory of the conversations shared over those dinners evokes excitement within me upon returning home. Mmm, I can already taste the meatballs.