It is six o’clock on a weeknight … what’s for dinner?
I have asked around to see who remembers dinners growing up and if they compare to the way their current family enjoys the nightly meals. Most say that they do not sit down and eat as a family during the week. Reasons vary from working late to children’s extracurricular events or the lack of time to fix a healthy meal. What happened to the quality family time around the table where conversations of everyone’s day happen, where manners are taught and healthy meals were cherished? June Cleaver would be ashamed of us!
The news is full of stories referencing the decline of family values and the erosion of the social morality in today’s generation. The blame ranges from video games to the internet. Did anyone stop and think about other things that have changed? We went from a society of sitting down at the table each night, regardless of what was happening, to sitting in front of the television eating with our calorie loaded, synthetically created frozen dinner; each member of the house fending for themselves to get a meal. No wonder communication has degenerated into texting from another room instead of face to face conversations. Our children never experience the connection of family or honest commitment of belonging to something beyond themselves.
For those over the age of 25, try to remember when you were expected to be home at the appointed time and helping to set the table. The consequence for failing was going without your meal that day or worse, the wrath of the parental figure. Just imagine the look on your father’s face when he is sitting there waiting for his meal after working all day only to have it delayed. Life had fewer distractions but we still knew where we would be at six each night.
In today’s society, the family unit seems more torn apart then my old 80’s skinny jeans. We spend more time texting, gaming and watching reality television than we spent having a conversation amongst ourselves. What does it say when someone texts a question from the across the room. Our values and concern for others have been given over to our self-serving desires for instant gratification. The needs of our family have become hollow as every generation loses the bond that connects us together. If we can’t share or connect with our children, parents, and siblings, how are we expected to share with others?
If one thing points to this shift in the sacrament of family dinner, I would have to point to the invention of the microwave. Before the microwave, meals were created from scratch, or at least from a box of instant ingredients. It was a matter of cooking and being there when it was ready and eating at the same time. Now, in a matter of minutes, individual servings can be heated from a frozen synthetic meal created in what amounts to Frankenstein’s laboratory. More care is put into the packaging than the content. If you miss a meal, heat it up later. No need to sit down with everyone. No need to be in the same room. Just heat and go.
I am not placing all of the blame on the microwave. Nor am I saying that video game, the internet, and television do not contribute. Just one piece of family has been steadily slipping away. I agree that we are busier than in the past. Yes, most of the households have both parents working. There are more things vying for our attention than ever before. However, taking the time to sit down to a meal as often as possible will help to create the bond that we all once had. It isn’t too late for us to try to connect once again and communicate. So, set the table, fix a meal, and enjoy some family time.
Until next time…