Thursday, October 8, 2009

Family Dinners

by Suzanne
A number of years ago, when my kids were elementary school age and I worked at The Ohio State University Hospital, a resident heard me talking about the meal I'd planned to cook the next day. He asked me, "So do you really make a five-course sit down dinner on your nights off? Do you really make your kids sit at the table and eat with you?"

"Not five courses, but well balanced. And yes, they have to sit at the table." Duh. My look must've matched my thoughts, because he literally took a step back.

"Why?" He honestly didn't understand how a modern family could do this.

"Why wouldn't we? Don't you and your wife sit at a table and eat?"

"Only when we go out. When we do cook, it's usually something we can eat out of the pot while we stand in the kitchen."

As odd as he thought my family meals were, I was saddened by his description of their meals together. He continued to study me as if I was some strange lab rat, so I expounded on the reasons we had sit down dinners at home.

"Sitting together gives us a chance to tell how our day has gone. Everyone, down to the youngest gets a turn to talk. The children learn to eat with manners and also how to have table conversation."

This long ago conversation popped into my head tonight at dinner as I watched my son-in-law holding my granddaughter while she learned to maneuver her fork full of food into her mouth. He patiently let her feed herself, while Rocky-the-wonder-dog dutifully kept the floor beneath her clean. Aria's mother sat beside them, rocking Ransom in his car seat while she worked on her own meal.

Next to me, my oldest daughter chatted with her boyfriend as she ate the dinner of stuffed peppers and mashed potatoes. It was odd that she wasn't eating the asparagus, a favorite vegetable of hers since she was a little girl of four. She announced the reason as, "since I've been pregnant, asparagus hasn't tasted right to me." Luckily for her another month and that should be fixed when her daughter makes her appearance. Seated on my other side, was my husband, who was busy chatting with Aria and reaching for seconds. The only missing person this evening was my son, who is now working evenings. (All these pictures were from last Thanksgiving.)

Once a week I try to plan a family dinner. I don't have to coax anyone to come home to eat. There are no dramatics. I cook. They come. Part of the fun is having the girls or my son-in-law help in the preparation and setting the table. The chatter, the laughter, the companionship are as much what they come home for as the food, (although, I get great pleasure in watching those second helpings hit their plates). Often, we'll stay at the table, long past the last piece of desert is consumed. (Tonight it was french apple pie!) Sometimes we just talk, sometimes we play Clue or cards. Sometimes one of the grandbabies falls asleep in my arms.

I like to think all those family meals when they were small is the reason they keep coming home. And I always think of my mom. She's the one who taught me what family meal time was all about. Tonight when my oldest informed us she couldn't wait to have a family dinner with her child and boyfriend I knew another generation would learn how important they are.

As a reader, these kinds of family moments, whether they take place in a modern day home, a neighborhood cafe or and old English dining room make the most impact on me. They touch what I love about families. It's why I love writers like Lisa Kleypas and Debbie Macomber who show us that families can be as good a character in a book as setting or individuals.

So, dear readers, did you have family meal time when you were growing up or now with your kids? What was your favorite meal? Your favorite memory?

P.S. Once when my son, Eric was little, he moaned about having stuffed peppers for dinner. He said, "Why do we have to have this?" My husband wisely told him, "Doesn't your mom always make things you like to eat?" When Eric said yes, he said, "Well, this is one of those meals your mom likes. She made it for her." Eric, said, "Oh, ok." And never complained about it again.

79 comments:

Pissenlit said...

Me?

Laurie said...

No matter how busy we were, my parents always insisted on everyone sitting down for the evening meal together. We'd discuss our day, argue with my dad (who always loved to play devil's advocate on almost any subject), and just be together.

I didn't appreciate those times then, but I treasure the memories. Especially bringing my teenage boyfriend (no my dh) who had never really experienced family dinners.

Great blog post!

Pissenlit said...

Yay! The GR's hangin' with me today! I wonder if he'll return a library book for me... ;)

We had/have family meal time perhaps about half the time. It usually depended on whether or not the dining room table was clear of accumulated stuff. Heh. And when I say "family meal time", I mean all of us eating together at one table. We always all ate at the same time...just not necessarily all in the same room...

Favourite meal? Hard to pick just one but probably some kind of Chinese food that my mum made for a special occasion(as in not the usual). As for a favourite memory, nothing really comes to mind at the moment...

Jane said...

Hi Suzanne,
My dad worked late so we didn't see him as much around the dinner table. My dad is the cook in the family so when he was off we could expect a great dinner. His specialty is beef fried noodles. My mom would make dumplings from scratch on weekends.

PinkPeony said...

As I've grown older, I've learned to appreciate the importance of all those dinners I shared with my family when I was younger. We had Chinese food almost every night and my little sister would sob at the table and ask if she could have Taco Bell instead. Now that we're older, my family will use any excuse to get together for a meal. It doesn't matter if the food doesn't taste great or if the fruit crisp isn't crispy enough as long as we're together and having a good time. But whenever we get together to feast on cracked Dungeness crabs and cold sesame noodles or my mom's curried crab, it's complete silence around the table; everyone's eating as fast as they can because there never seems to be enough for folks to have thirds and fourths. :)
Great post, Suzanne! Congrats, Pissenlit!

Anna Campbell said...

Suz, what a gorgeous post. Every so often on Facebook, you put up a note about something you're cooking and invariably my mouth starts to water. Wish you lived closer - I'd move in!

Your post really brought back memories of Sunday dinner in my family. Mum would generally do a roast - and her roasts, lamb or beef usually, were things of beauty. As you say, there's something about everyone sitting around a table like that. During the week, we usually ate in front of the TV although we always had breakfast together and whoever was home had lunch together at the table.

Hey, Pissenlit, congratulations on the chook!

Helen said...

Congrats Pissenlit have fun with him

Suz I love the post and the photos your meal times with family are just like mine and yes I love them as well.
As a child meal times were always like that and I have continued on the same, my family drop in lots for dinner and they are always fun times the only problem we have is the table is not big enough but the lounge room is really close so we are still close together.

Jayden used to always sit on my lap to eat and he was always taking the peas of my plate he now sits on a chair and Hayley likes to sit on my knee and does the same. I am sure that as Jake and Corey grow they too will want to sit with me and I look forward to it.

The conversation is great and we are always laughing these are the most favourite times I spend with my family.

Have Fun
Helen

Suzanne Welsh said...

Good morning everyone! Or perhaps afternoon to those down in Oz!

Congrats on the rooster nabbing, Pissenlit!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Laurie!

When my kids were teens, there were many a night we'd have one or more of their friends who just happened to be over at meal time.

One asked where the box was when told we were having mashed potatoes with the meal. My daughter asked, "what box? My mom uses real potatoes." Her friend, said, "You can do that?" LOL, we still laugh about that!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Pissenlit!

Favorite meals for my kids has always varied. But my son had a definite unfavorite for years. Mexican. He refused it over and over, tacos, taco salad, enchildas, queadillas, didn't matter, the boy fought us tooth and nail over it.

I finally gave up the day I refused to let him leave the table until he tried it, only to find him asleep face down in the taco salad five minutes later.

Since then, he's tried lots of variations of Mexican food and loves it!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Jane!

My daughter's husband is the main cook at their house, although she's trying more things since being married and having little ones.

My dad on the other hand could make soup from a can and breakfast, (fried eggs and bacon), so no one would starve, but mom was the real cook in our family.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Pink Peony!

I'll bet everyone is busy eating that meal! Crab is such a fabulous dish. mmmmmmm, making me hungry thinking about it.

Hmmm, crab cakes tonight?

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Anna!

Now that my son has moved out, I plan on having my critique partners and their spouses over for dinner at least once before Christmas. If you were here, I'd gladly invite you!!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Helen!

That seems to be one of my favorite parts. Usually Aria sits on her daddy's lap for the main meal and mine for desert!

We didn't have a table big enough for the whole clan until two years ago, and now the babies are making it obsolete!

Anna Sugden said...

Lovely post, Suz.

And I'm with you on making the effort to eat with children and have family dinners. Though I don't have kids of my own, I love having hubby's kids and their partners/friends round to eat. We all sit around the big country style tabe in our kitchen and have a great time.

When I was teaching, so many of my kids would eat a sandwich at their computer for their dinner. Often they wouldn't have breakfast, so you can imagine their social skills and their diet! I'd feel so sorry for them.

Anna Sugden said...

Ah yes, Anna, Sunday Roasts. Love 'em. I also loved weekend breakfasts - the traditional fry-up. So unhealthy, but so delicious!

And, of course, Friday night fish & chips! Gotta love the food traditions.

Anna Sugden said...

My favourite meal is, was and always will be, my Mum's Persian cooking.

Caren Crane said...

Congrats, Pissenlit!

Oh, Suz, I ADORE family dinner! Although we are always on the go, my family tries hard to sit down together at dinner time. We even wait for everyone to get there and say grace before we start. *g* My family of origin ALWAYS did (minus the grave most of the time - we didn't know there were people who didn't eat together), though "the family" was often simply whoever was around that night.

Hearing your co-worker's story reminded me of Cher's movie "Mermaids", where all she made her daughters for dinner was appetizers and they perched around the house to eat it. It was funny at the time but has become a sad reality for many families.

My favorite family dinner these days is Thanksgiving, because I know a good chunk of my family of origin, plus my family, will be there. I can't think of anything finer than sharing a meal with the people I love.

My favorite meal ever is one my mother will still make if I ask: pan-fried chicken, mashed potatoes with gravy, corn on the cob, cornbread (not the nasty sweet kind, either) and cooked apples. Throw in a fresh apple spice cake with caramel icing and I'll follow you to the ends of the earth!

Caren Crane said...

Pissenlit, I wouldn't count on the GR to return library books. He cost me a mint the last time he "promised" to return a book for me, the stinker!

Caren Crane said...

Pissenlit, Jane and PinkPeony, I am horribly jealous that your families got to have wonderful Chinese food at home. It's like a dream to me! Of course, my mother has always been a fabulous cook and would make anything that struck her fancy, but her sights never turned to Chinese food. *sigh*

I dream of homemade dumplings! The close we got was homemade chicken and dumplings. *g* Not the same at all!

Caren Crane said...

Oh, Anna, you would go and mention Persian food. I have learned to make a really fabulous beef khoresh and some mighty fine lubia pollo, but I could never compete with my boyfriend-from-college's mother. She was a fantastic cook! Persian food is simply exquisite.

Anna Sugden said...

See, this is why you must come and visit, Caren. Mum will be only too happy to make you Persian food - and she is an awesome cook!

Pissenlit said...

Caren - Pissenlit, I wouldn't count on the GR to return library books. He cost me a mint the last time he "promised" to return a book for me, the stinker!

Ya, he offered to return it if I paid him. Said it was a good deal 'cause he's charging me less than the library would if I racked up a bunch of late fees. I think I'll make that library run on my own.

Lynz Pickles said...

Congrats, pissenlit! Have fun with him.

We always ate together when I was growing up - and it was usually at the table, too! When it wasn't, it was in front of the TV, so we could argue about which show to watch... but never over the sink. I don't know how to eat standing up unless it's a hot dog.

My favourite was Sunday dinner. We'd have my grandparents over and would usually have roast beef, vegetables, and mashed potatoes, with apple pie for dessert. Sometimes we'd play cards afterwards, or we'd just talk. Those dinners are some of my favourite memroies.

Susan Sey said...

Good morning, Suz!

I love to know that other families go to the trouble of sitting down to dinner together. Sometimes I feel like I'm swimming up a very long & difficult stream on that one.

But sit down we do, & my kids fight the chance to be first to tell about their "roses & thorns" (good things & challenges of the day). They come up with the best stuff. My 2 y.o. is especially creative. :-)

The DH & I also participate, & I hope we're sinking some deep roots into their subconscious regarding how to talk & how to listen & how to use meal time as a community builder.

For now, we're just grateful when they sit long enough to eat. :-)

Claudia Dain said...

You are a woman after my own heart!

Yes, I grew up on family dinners around the dining room table (not the kitchen table!).

Yes, my children grew up on family dinners around the dining room table where we would sit and talk long after the meal was over.

Yes, my grown children come home once a week for family dinner. Like you, there is no drama. They help set the table, get the food out, pour the milk, light the candles. We sit and enjoy a nice meal and we talk and talk and talk. We clear the table together and load the dishwasher. I bundle up the leftovers for them and wave them down the driveway.

It's the highlight of my week.

As an added plus, my kids are wonderful conversationalists (she said without bias).

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Suz, will you adopt me so I can come to family dinners at your house? :) Seriously, that speaks volumes about what a wonderful mom you are that all the kids and significant others and children come back often for meals. Very cool.

jo robertson said...

Aw, Suz, that's a darling Eric story. Great post!

Family dinners seem to be going the way of vinyl records, don't they? Ironically, when my kids all lived at home, we had a sit down dinner every night. Now, with just the two of us, not so much.

I agree with you, Suzanne. Family dinners are a wonderful way to teach so many skills and a great way to touch base in a family.

TerriOsburn said...

I've been so crazy I haven't been able to get over here so I was so excited to make it today. Then Suz made me cry. Dang it.

I never had this and I wish I did. That was one good thing about when I was married, my ex's family was close like this and ate together all the time. Man, never thought I'd miss anything about those years.

Thanks for sharing your family with us, Suz. My family is coming to visit next weekend for the first time in more than a year. I was sort of dreading it, but now I'm going to be more positive about it.

Christie Kelley said...

Great blog, Suz! Even though I grew up in a large family we tried to have family dinners. It didn't always work since most of my brothers were teenagers by the time I could sit at the table.

We do have family dinners as many nights as possible with my husband and kids. Not that it's easy. My husband teaches drums and guitar to kids but tries to keep 30 minutes around dinner time open. My oldest son is working after school a few nights a week. But every Sunday, we do sit down for a nice meal together. Not only is it important but it's fun. The strange conversations we get into are what my kids will remember when they're older.

Anna Dougherty said...

When we first got married my husband said that when we had kids we needed to sit at the table every night and have family time. He made me promise. I grew up in a family that ate whenever and wherever, except on Sunday. Sunday meant that mom would cook a big dinner and we would all hang out. My husband grew up with a family that didn't eat together at all- parents too busy etc. So now we cook and eat together, with our 2 kids. Sundays are still the big dinner day and now that we live near my brother we have him come over too! The dinner table is a great way to chat about the day and discuss whatever is on your mind. It's all about the chance to connect.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Anna S!

It's sad to imagine no one getting the social time and skills at the family table, isn't it? I know at least two of Eric's buddies who ate quite a few meals at our house as much for the conversation as the food.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Anna, I think I'd love to come to England just to have classic fish & chips in a newspaper lined basket!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Caren, Thanksgiving has always been a favorite with my family, both here and in Ohio. In fact, it's my oldest's favorite holiday.

Your mama's meal sounds delicious.

Have you ever had applesauce stack cake? My mom will make that for me if I ask very nicely as it's very time consuming to make!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Lynz Pickles!
My favourite was Sunday dinner. We'd have my grandparents over and would usually have roast beef, vegetables, and mashed potatoes, with apple pie for dessert. Sometimes we'd play cards afterwards, or we'd just talk. Those dinners are some of my favourite memroies...

We always had a big dinner on Sunday, too. But now my daughter's family goes to her husband's mother's for Sunday dinner, so I choose either Monday or Tuesday evening, since that's when most of the kids are hom. But I cook like it's Sunday!!

MsHellion said...

Awww, I think the story at the end is the one I liked best. That was just such a great husband thing to say.

I don't remember a lot of meals around the table. We ate at 5:30 or so, and the Evening News was on then. God forbid Dad miss whatever *horrible* thing Reagen was doing that day. We tried to eat more around the table, I think, when there were holidays. We actually cleaned off the table and stuff. *LOL* Mostly we ate in the living room.

Perhaps I didn't have any manners for "out" eating, but we never got to eat out, so this was not a problem.

We're not a chatty family. *LOL* We don't share. It probably explains a lot about me now that I won't share things on the whole.

But I'm not totally deprived. I'll eat at friends' houses and we'll sit at tables sometimes--but regardless where we're sitting, we're always talking and sharing and bonding. And only after all that is done, do we flick on the chick flick of the night.

MsHellion said...

I forgot about Sundays. We did have more formal meals on Sundays--after church (sort of a reward for making it, I think)--and we'd have fried chicken and some sort of potatoes and corn and country green beans.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Susan!
But sit down we do, & my kids fight the chance to be first to tell about their "roses & thorns" (good things & challenges of the day). They come up with the best stuff. My 2 y.o. is especially creative. :-).. It's amazing what they'll tell you when it's there turn to share, isn't it?

Eric predicted he'd own a motorcycle one day, and he now has a big Harley...much to his mama's fears!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey, Claudia!
It's the highlight of my week.

As an added plus, my kids are wonderful conversationalists (she said without bias).
...

I have to confess, family meal night is the highlight of my week, too.

Did your kids also talk early? Mine did, and I think it was part of the hearing conversation that helped. Now the next generation is talking up a storm...:)

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hey Pissenlit! Congrats on gettin' the bird!

Suz, what a great post. We always sat down to dinner and when we'd been away for some reason - camp or college, or whatever - there would always be a special "coming home" dinner. In my case, baked ham, cinnamon apples, sweet potatoes, rolls, etc. My sisters was usually fried chicken, along with one of my brothers. The other brother liked steak and fixings with that.

My kids sometimes bemoan that the TV goes off and they have to actually talk, but we have family dinners as often as possible, but always on Sundays when we have "Family Meetings." Like your family, everyone gets to talk, tell about their week, ask for what they might need in the coming week, etc.

Another parent asked why we do it. I said, "It's fun, it teaches good table and conversational manners, and I like to hear what my kids have to say."

Why the family meetings, she asked. "So they'll learn that you have to plan ahead and that what you need and have going on has to be balanced with the whole family."

She was really surprised by all that, for some reason. Grins.

Pat Cochran said...

Oh, yes, Suzanne! Dinnertime was sit at the table time for all of
us, all eleven of us! Conversation
was an important part of the meal!

Mother was a great cook, not a one
of us left food on our plates. My
most favorite meal centered around Mother's baked chicken cacciatore.
And her Thanksgiving dinners were
always wonderful!

Pat Cochran

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Susan, I'm swimmin' with you there, girlfriend!

What lovely memories everyone has of table times with family. I love it!

Caren, ahhhhhh Thanksgiving!

Anna, my neighbor (whom I miss terribly since she moved) is Persian and she'd make dinner sometimes....yuuuuummmmmm. We traded a lot of recipes.

Caren, do you have a good one for the Khoresh? Anna? I'd like to try that but...

Suzanne Welsh said...

Trish, we'll have to have you over the next time you're in Dallas!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Jo!

Aw, Suz, that's a darling Eric story. Great post!..

Thanks. He was the kind of kid who when given a resonable explanation would stop whining or complaining. Of course, if the explanation wasn't to his satisfaction he'd try to convince you otherwise! hehehe

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Terrio!

Then Suz made me cry. Dang it. ...I'm sorry. Wasn't my intentions and wish you could come for one of our meals. My daughter Lyndsey had a friend whose mother never cooked. They ate all their meals out or take out. She was at our house on the night that I made a big pork roast dinner, (pork roast, gravy, mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli and cooked apples). She and Lyndsey had to help make the meal, (mash the potatoes or cook the apples) and then got to see how everyone loved their cooking. For her it was a novel experience, and to this day I think it sad.

BUT I smile when I remember Lyndsey handing her the gravy and she said, "I don't eat gravy."

Lyndsey scooped some on to her friend's potatoes and meat and said, "You eat my mama's gravy."

Her friend didn't want to act like a baby, tasted the potatoes with gravy and never spoke again until her plate was clean! LOL!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Christie!
The strange conversations we get into are what my kids will remember when they're older....

And they'll tell those stories to their kids, who will in turn tell those stories to their kids! When we've all been at my parents in Ohio or they've been here, the conversation after dinner can go on for several hours!

Kate Carlisle said...

Oh great. Now I'm going to be craving stuffed peppers for the next week. :-)

Beautiful post, Suz! Love the photos of your fam, too.

Yup, we always sat down to eat dinner as a family when I was little. Then we kids washed up and lined up for inspection before saluting smartly and marching off to bed. My dad was in the air force, can you tell? LOL

Congrats on snagging the GR, Pissenlit! Good luck with that library book. :-)

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Anna D!

When we first got married my husband said that when we had kids we needed to sit at the table every night and have family time. He made me promise. ...

I'll bet before you were dating he came to your house for one of those big Sunday dinners and fell in love with it! My husband did, too!

Joan said...

Oh yes...we sat down to eat dinner every night as a family. My Daddy got home from work early so that was usually 4pm.

Just the "being" is what I remember as to favorite meals...most everything. My Mom made a great chuck roast with Worchestersire sauce and baked chicken and dressing....glad I braved the rain to get beef stew fixin's...I'm getting hungry!

And I too want to be adopted by you Suz :-)

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Ms. Hellion!

My dad tried to watch TV during meals, too, but mom insisted the TV was off until after dinner. He was always the first one to leave the table to watch the news while the rest of us talked or cleaned up the kitchen.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Jeanne!
Suz, what a great post. We always sat down to dinner and when we'd been away for some reason - camp or college, or whatever - there would always be a special "coming home" dinner. In my case, baked ham, cinnamon apples, sweet potatoes, rolls, etc. My sisters was usually fried chicken, along with one of my brothers. The other brother liked steak and fixings with that...

The special request meals around here are for birthdays. Homemade lasagna is a top choice by at least three of them!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Pat!
Oh, yes, Suzanne! Dinnertime was sit at the table time for all of
us, all eleven of us! Conversation
was an important part of the meal!
...

Oh. My. Gosh! 11? I bet that was a crowded meal, but really fun!!

My dad is the second youngest of 18. Half were grown and out of the house by the time he came along, so meal time was usually the 6 or 7 still at home, his parents and whatever older one was visiting at the time. When they all got together for reunions it was wild!!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Kate!
Oh great. Now I'm going to be craving stuffed peppers for the next week. :-)...I'd offer you some, but Aria just ate the leftovers for lunch! I babysit on Thursdays and she does love rice.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Joanie!!

Beef Stew? Mmmmmmmmm...I have chili on the stove simmering. That way if I get called into work tonight, hubby will have his dinner made. If I don't we'll still have chili, but with cornbread, too! (Am betting Eric shows up either way!)

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

It's for birthdays at my house too, now. No one's "away" much yet, but I'm betting that will get instituted too, for the same reasons.

I've got one Chicken Tettrazini, one Steak-and-everything and one pizza for birthdays right now...

Lasagna, chili (YUM!) and pot pie are big fav's 'round here too.

Claudia Dain said...

Hmm, one was an early talker, one average, one late...so no connection I can see there. But they speak so beautifully now! LOL Such charming, engaging conversationalists, one and all.

catslady said...

Yes, Yes, and Yes. We always had dinners together (there were times my dad worked late and then we'd keep him company). I continuted the tradition and wouldn't have it any other way. There were times when my kids were older and they had to work weird hours but we did our best. Now one is married and the other in college who gets to come home a few times a month and I have the same Sunday dinners as my mom. There's always some that can make it if not all every week. And we too play games afterwards. I can't imagine doing it any other way.

Beth said...

What a fun post, Suz! Both my husband and I had family dinners growing up and we continue that tradition. Just last night we had tacos and all five of us ended up talking long after we'd all finished eating.

I love hearing about my kids' days and watching them interact with each other *g*

And since I love to cook, I always make Sunday dinner - attendance is mandatory :-)

Virginia said...

Congrats Pissenlit on getting the rooster today!

When I was growing up we always had family meal time, my mother cooked everyday and we sat down at the table for the meal! My family still get together on holidays and birthday for these meals. I cook about every day myself but my husband has to set in front of the TV during meal times and the TV is in the living room. I miss these meal times myself with the family.When my son is home he takes his meals to his room.

Anna Campbell said...

Suz, I'd gladly come ;-)

Nancy said...

Suz, we always do sit-down dinner. Both Mark and I grew up in families where that was the rule, so it seems natural to us. Even before the boy came along, we sat at the table together to eat. When he goes to college, that won't change. And the TV is off.

For us, dinner provides a quiet interval and a chance to talk to each other. And to the dog, an insistent presence at table-side.

Pissenlit, congrats on the rooster!

Nancy said...

Favorite meal? When I was growing up, it was my mom's roast beef with rice and gravy and some green vegetable I couldn't avoid. *g* I usually hoped for green beans. Most of our veggies were canned, and I really loathed the asparagus.

Nancy said...

Jane, the dh is our cook. He's way better than I am, even to the extent of making leftovers resemble something other than warm leftovers.

Nancy said...

Caren and Pissenlit--ouch! Your conversation reminds me I have, er, overdue books. Not letting the GR anywhere near them, though.

Better tend to that tomorrow. Myself. Not him.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Catslady!

Isn't it great when they want to come home and carry on the traditions? And when they bring over the significant others and then grandbabies it's even better!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Beth!
Just last night we had tacos and all five of us ended up talking long after we'd all finished eating...

This is the best part. It doesn't have to be a fancy meal, chicken fajitas is a major hit with ours.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Virginia!
I cook about every day myself but my husband has to set in front of the TV during meal times and the TV is in the living room....

Alas, I will confess that hubby and I tend to eat in front of the TV a few nights a week. Since I work at night three nights a week he is alone for those meals and this is his habit. But at least once or twice a month I make a meal we have to sit at the table together to enjoy. Mostly because I waited 26 years to get a diningroom table!! LOL

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Nancy!

For us, dinner provides a quiet interval and a chance to talk to each other. And to the dog, an insistent presence at table-side...

Rocky loves to lay under the table until the meal is mostly done then, with perfect timing, he starts wandering spot to spot to see who will give him a bite. He starts at Aria's feet because she just plain drops things and ends up at my husband's plate because he is the softest touch in the family!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Nancy:

*g* I usually hoped for green beans. ..

My family never ate store bought canned greenbeans when I was a child. (I still just cook fresh.) My mom always put up 3 or 4 dozen jars of canned beans every fall. About 12 or so she'd "pickle". (don't turn your noses up until you've tried them, y'all!). But if I was sent to the basement to get a jar, and they were all mixed together without labels, I'd invariably get the pickled beans much to my sister and brother's anguish! Me? I love pickled beans!!! hehehe

PJ said...

Loved the blog, Suz. What wonderful memories you're making for your family.

Growing up, we ate most meals together during the school year. Weekdays were simple fare with a big meal following church on Sundays, either at our house or my maternal grandparents' house. My mom grew up on a farm so we had lots of country cooking - roasts, chicken, potatoes, other fresh veggies, fresh fruits, etc.

Hubby and I almost always had dinner together at the table. He was a terrific cook and we had fun creating all sorts of different dishes together.

PJ said...

Suz, I've been craving stuffed peppers lately. I was going to buy some peppers at the store the other day but they looked awful. I'll have to check the other stores. It's been way too long since I've made that.

Nancy said...

Suz, I wish Herself behaved as well as Rocky. She sits, poised, ears up, and puts the evil eye on each of us in turn. Occasionally, she tries to push under an arm to get her nose closer to the plate. The boy angles his body to block her.

Yes, we know we're pushovers.

I envy you the home-canned veggies. We had fresh green beans, sometimes from my uncle's garden in the summer, and occasionally had frozen peas. But most of our veggies came out of cans. I really hated the peas, but the asparagus was the worst. The dh buys fresh asparagus and steams it, which makes all the difference in the world--at least for me--between a vile side dish and a tasty one.

Cassondra said...

Oh, Suz, what a great blog!

Some of my favorite memories are of holiday meals at my grandmother's house when my aunt, uncle, and cousins would all be there from Ohio. We'd eat, then after the dishes were done (everyone helped) we'd sit around the table and play rook.

Darn, I miss those meals.

You learn how to be a family by having meals together. It's the truth.

Christine Wells said...

Oh, Suz, what a lovely post. Thanks so much for bringing back a lot of fond memories of family dinners. I was very lucky that my father was usually home in time for dinner when I was growing up. These days, my dh arrives too late for us to eat together during the week.

My favourite memory is lamb roast on a Sunday night, or picking up sticks around the yard for my father to build the fire in the outdoor BBQ and ferrying food up and down the back stairs from the BBQ to the dining table. I really like what you said about a family being a character in a novel as much as setting can be. That's so true and I love that in romances, also.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey PJ!

My mom grew up on a farm so we had lots of country cooking - roasts, chicken, potatoes, other fresh veggies, fresh fruits, etc....

Both my parents grew up on country farms in Tennessee and with big families. My mom learned cooking at her mother's side, I learned it at hers, the girls learned it with me. My MIL was blown away the first time she visited us and I was making meals with no recipe. The woman actually stared at me and said..."How do you know what to add or how much?" I said, uhm, "my eyes and nose and mouth tell me."

Suzanne Welsh said...

PJ:
Suz, I've been craving stuffed peppers lately. I was going to buy some peppers at the store the other day but they looked awful. I'll have to check the other stores. don't forget the mashed potatoes!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Nancy:
The dh buys fresh asparagus and steams it, which makes all the difference in the world... uhm with real butter, sea salt and white pepper?

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey, Cassondra!

You learn how to be a family by having meals together. It's the truth....

Even angry teenagers have to be fairly civil when seated in front of a good meal. You'd be surprised how much you learn about them and how it grounds them through the rough years!

Nancy said...

Suz, butter, sea salt and white pepper sounds good, though we tend to eat it just plain.