I Believe in Family Dinners

Katelyn - Aguanga, California
Entered on May 7, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: family
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This I Believe

Competition: a nerve-racking subject that never failed to make my heart race, my palms sweat, my stomach turn, and inevitably leave me with an overwhelming feeling of stress. Every dance practice seemed to end in a discussion about this topic. But after a hectic day at school and a grueling, three hour practice, there was one thing I would always rush home to. Contrary to what many may assume, it wasn’t a hot shower. It wasn’t the comfort of my favorite show. And it wasn’t a huge scoop of ice cream. It was the nightly dinner that I sat down to eat with my family.

Dinner with my family has been part of my evening routine throughout the entirety of my life, but it wasn’t until recently that my perspective on these dinners began to change. After my family and I moved to a rural town three years ago, my sisters and I had guests over much more frequently than before. After all, in a town 45 miles from the nearest mall, there isn’t much for teenagers and their friends to do except spend time at one another’s homes. Often, my sisters and I would invite our guests to stay for dinner, and it was then that I realized just how unusual our regular family dinners were. Every guest commented on it. “Your family sits together for dinner every night?” they would ask. And we did.

Apparently this tradition is much less common than I had previously assumed. Many people don’t sit down to eat together. In fact, many don’t even eat the same meal. Well if this is normal, my family is far from it because every night, my mother makes, prepares, and serves us dinner. And every night, my family and I eat what she makes us, and we eat it together.

Now, several years later, my family is known for our dinners which have become popular with all of our friends. My mother has grown accustomed to making larger portions in preparation for at least a couple extra guests. A few of the guests are regulars, and I like to consider them an extended part of the family. At dinner, they seem to feel like a part of the family as well, even referring to my parents as “Mom” and “Dad”.

Maybe that’s because somehow, dinner just brings people together in that way. One can learn so much about another from simple “how was your day?” dinner conversations. And all the while, it’s hard not to enjoy good food in a lighthearted atmosphere amidst the people you love. Now as a college freshman, the 300 miles between school and home have made me realize the significance of those family dinners. For me, the dinner table was my safe place. After a long day, a family dinner never failed to ease the stresses of school or the demands of dance or cheer. Dinner was calming and comforting and yet full of energy at the same time, as there was rarely a silent moment with three teenage girls seated at the table.

I don’t get to participate in these dinners anymore while I’m at school, but I’m anxious to come home to them during the summer. And one day, when I have a family of my own, I plan on keeping this same tradition because I believe in family dinners. I believe that no matter how busy a family is, if there is one thing to make time for, it should be dinner together. It is always a good ending to any day.