The Family Dinner

One of the problems of our youth is that the family unit is broken up. When we’d sit down to dinner together as a family, we’d learn about each other. We had something people don’t get today.

-Paul Prudhomme
My Mother gave me this lovely book.
I have read it cover to cover and have to say that I love The Family Dinner by Laurie David.
The pictures are beautiful,  the pages are riddled with wonderful quotes that I kept pausing to write down in my journal. This book walks you through WHY family dinner is an important part of our family rituals and gives you some recipes to start from. I loved the section about Shabbat… I know how labor intensive my challah is, if you receive one, know how much I love you because it’s tons of work for wonderful rewards! The section on family dinner after divorce was excellent too. There are games, ideas and fun conversation starters that we’ve tried around our table and many have been a hit! Family Dinners are important in our house but I found myself getting excited about them again after reading this. A thoughtful beautiful idea sparking book laced with delicious recipes and written to speak to your heart.
We no longer have a chain book store selling new books in my local community, although I’m a huge fan of the $5 or less used bookstore! Often I’m asked why I just don’t buy books on the Internet. Well… it’s because I’m a little nutty. 😉 I can’t bring myself to purchase a Kindle or other such electronic reading doohickey. I know, I know someday I will be forced to but not today. I love the feel and smell of a book in my hand. I like warn and well read pages. I like to highlight or underline if it so moves me. I secretly wish to live in the Library from Beauty and the Beast. Sans talking furniture… my foot stool shouldn’t bark. 🙂 When I do order books, I try to look at Scholastic Books first. They have many adult titles well as children’s and a portion of your order will go to fund your local school. Win Win in my book! I have a relationship with books, they are friends, vacations and adventures I live in the wrong time to experience first hand. I am fortunate and grateful to have a mother that lives close to a bookstore as well as encourages my book addiction.
“Ma, the next time you go can you look for this and poke through it to see if you think it needs to come live with me.” I say via phone.
A short time later she’s calling to read me the info I wanted but has also located a this she’d heard was a really good read and filling me in on any new release info for authors she knows I enjoy as well. Sometimes then I’ll order it but often she’ll pick it up to deliver on one of her runs out our way. Books have always been a great way for us to connect. She can be as passionate as I about characters and the Prince just has to laugh at us as we cluck away about them as though they were our good friends that we just had lunch with. Sure, I could go on the Internet and get the same information but I enjoy calling my Mommy and hearing her perspective. She’s gotten me into authors and series that I have devoured with gusto. When it comes to books, she knows me the very best! When I received The Family Dinner from her, I glanced through it and set it on my nightstand with my personal “to read” pile. A few months later while nursing a cold, I sat down and got totally roped into this book. Since, I have purchased 2 more copies to gift to friends.
The concept of the family dinner is not new. Really when you break it down to hard facts, I believe the family dinner tradition was spawned more from the need to feed the members of the family or group at one time. It’s not cost efficient to offer different meals at all different times. From the beginning of time people came together to share a meal either because many hands make light work/provides a full meal when all put in what they have or because they enjoyed the company, people gathered. People didn’t have the conveniences or distractions we currently enjoy. Everyone had a job to do and take care of, simply so that they could eat and survive. As towns grew from nothing and dirt roads were replaced with smooth pavement, our roles in the family unit evolved as well. I love the Leave it to Beaver era. Tea length dresses, pearls and the perfect Norman Rockwell picture dinner served nightly to the eager close knit family. Looks great in a picture but I imagine those ladies struggled with the same things we do today, if not more because it was frowned on to speak so candidly and vocally about our struggles.
The family evolved and into our progressive times, we’re finding the busy fast paced lifestyle often does not permit the evening tradition of breaking bread around the table together. Family is who you make it. Our kids have many “Honorary Aunties and Uncles” that belong to our family. Single parent homes, relatives raising children, couples, 2 moms or 2 dads, room mates, blended families, foster families, friends, different sizes, colors and traditions… all are the new traditional family and it’s all good! Where ever there is love, you’ve found family. How ever the package is wrapped, family is still a gift!
 “A Family is a group of people who eat the same thing for dinner.” – Nora Ephron, writer and director
I have a girlfriend that is a very successful single mother to a wonderful tween age daughter. She has to work long hours at a job that she does love, to have the home she wants in the area she desires and to provide for her great kiddo. She is a super mama so I questioned her after she announced she could burn a Popsicle, how has she kept them alive all these years? 😉 Without hesitation she said, “Take out. Duh!” She has a Gilmore Girls type close bond with her daughter that would make anyone envious. I thought it funny that she doesn’t own dinner plates but only a set of the finest most beautiful china. She donated much of her kitchen and purchased herself the set that she had always wanted. She brings home take out and they eat it off the finest china and drink form 2 crystal glasses. Why? Because they are worth it! She’s short on time but that’s her neat way of enjoying her evening with her daughter and reminding her that she’s worth all of the finest things this life has to offer. A family dinner tradition that I think is GRAND!
A family member expressed frustration after skimming this book. ” We hardly have time to breathe let alone eat together during the week!” She is Mom to many, rejoined the work force and still has to juggle practice, games, events, work, religious commitments and stay sane. Raise your hand if your family dinner table has ever gone mobile as you pass back the bags from the drive-thru and race to chow down before the next event! Been there! Guess what… it’s a family dinner even if everyone is strapped in. Hey, it might be more effective with a captive audience! 😉 It may be a lofty goal to sit down every night together. It works for us 98% of the time and has truly been a major tool that brings our family closer. Feeling guilty or less because you can not achieve that daily, is a waste. Focus instead on one day of the week that works for your family and try to make it happen. Maybe a Sunday lunch is best. Maybe Shabbat dinner is your tradition. Saturday morning breakfasts or maybe you have to set a date for twice a month. Even though kids complain and act as if they’d prefer not to attend such things… most will secretly cherish those moments spent with their family. Our dinners range from the awkward laughable to the down right bizarre. It’s a tradition that doesn’t have to be perfect or lengthy to be wonderful and effective.
I’ve gotten some emails asking for make ahead freezer meals and crock pot recipes.  I hear ya and I’m on it! The homemade freezer meal and crock pot saves me big money and tons of time when we hit a really busy week. Through couponing and cooking an additional meal or two to freeze each week, we are able to eat healthy quick homemade meals anytime and keep our budget in check.! Swing by and “like” Just A Little Nutty on Facebook! I try to post up some of the Free or better deals I come across there, as I find them.
It’s stressful to get everyone fed and taken care of at the end of the day. As a full time working mom to many, I totally want to scream some days too! A little preparing, planning, a dash of a supportive Prince and a side of extra freezer room, have allowed me to bring back the joy to our Family Dinner. I hit the kitchen totally frazzled sometimes but that’s when I have to remember why I’m in there. To provide my family with nourishment to make their bodies strong and in turn for all the love I put into each meal, be it take out or homemade, I get listen to my family share and interact… there is no place like home and no family I would rather be counted amongst. Where ever you are dining and who ever your with, engage in conversation, linger in love and enjoy the family bonds you’ve created! Now  please pass the potatoes and kindly don’t roll your corn on the the whole stick of butter on the table!? Animals! 😉
What’s for dinner?
Meg xoxo

My Homemade Challah… my family is known for eating out the insides so it looks whole until you go to cut it. Then they’re busted! 🙂


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1 comment

    • Janet on July 4, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    I use to get the bottom of the box that was at the grocery store (the type that they have cut down to hold six packs and it sort of resembles a tray table. I would make dinner at home and then take it mobile when we had all the running around. Everyone thought this was a big joke but it saved me both time money, spills and the kids got to eat what they like (my food rather than fast food). Not certain if any of these ideas help anyone but even if it helps one person I am all for spreading the word. I also did Sunday dinner and each child could have a guest but they would be at my table not anywhere else on Sunday evening.

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