Dinnertime has always been one of the most important parts of my day. Not only because food thrills me more than most things, but also because it is mandatory family time. Starting in elementary school and probably before, the five of us would sit around the table and chat about our days. The best nights were when our conversations floated from routine answers of a favorite question, “So, how was school today?” to speaking in depth about historical events — my dad is a history buff, as many boomer dads tend to be. Even though I had no idea who the Beatles or Winston Churchill were in second grade, and may still be a little iffy on the latter, these conversations brought me closer to my family.
As I went through middle school, many of my friends’ families ceased their family dinner obligations because of conflicting schedules. In my house, if my brother’s football practice went until 9 pm, as it usually did on school nights, buckle up, because we were not eating dinner until he and my dad returned.
At the time I found this rather annoying; my 8-year-old brain could not comprehend why I had to starve half to death to appease my brother’s schedule. One night, we picked up a pizza on the way home from picking up my brother, and I was so hungry I helped myself to a slice in the backseat. When we got home and my father realized that there was a slice missing, his eyes met mine, and I got sent to my room without dinner. While this punishment only lasted about half an hour, it taught me the value that my family put on eating together.
Moving into high school, things got a little more complicated with scheduling. My brother went to a private boarding high school, which changed the dynamic of our dinners quite a bit. Additionally, my twin sister and I found our own strides and became involved in separate activities. Despite the obstacles, we managed to eat together at least five times a week, and adjusted to a new normal without my brother.
Even now as a college junior, when we all come home for break, dinner together is something we can all look forward to. My sister and I do most of the cooking — that way I can delve into my passion for food up close. Our family talks have elevated to more hearty discussions about politics, the stock market, or my personal favorite as an English major; favorite Alexander Pope poem and why.
All in all, having dinner with my family constantly has become a routine in our lives, and has brought us all together, even in times when I wished I had some space. The memories we’ve all shared around our little dinner table will last a lifetime, and I wouldn’t give them up for anything.