Family Time

I suppose it was around 11th grade when I realized that having a family dinner every night isn’t the norm for most families that I know. Almost every night for as long as I can remember, my family (Mom, Dad, Sister, and I) has sat down to dinner together, at our dining room table. Regardless of whether we had an elaborately cooked meal, leftovers, or restaurant take-out, the four of us sat around the table and spent time together. We’d talk about our day at school or work, or plans we had for the rest of the week, anything really.

However, I’ve noticed that a lot of families aren’t like this at all. Kids will dole their share onto their plates then head right back to their televisions or computers, and parents are guilty of doing the same. Dinners are turned into rushed meals of standing at kitchen counter-tops, avoiding eye contact, and rushing away as soon as possible. Often times the kids are left on their own, to make or buy their own dinner whenever and wherever they please. I’ve found that when I tell those sorts of people that my family does in fact have a family dinner every night, they look at us as if we’re crazy. My sisters claims to have had similar experiences among her peers, as well. Although my family’s Sunday brunches are spent sharing bagels from Bagel Bob’s (which sweetly offers a 10% student discount), we are supposedly the anomaly.

Recently my family’s been bonding over Jeopardy. Every night at 7:00 as we eat, the TV turns on, and the table conversation becomes a blend between the last movie I saw, the vacation my sister and I are pressing to be planned, and everyone yelling out what they hope is the right answer to the last trivia question. It’s a bit nontraditional, yes, and sure, we know that eating with the TV on is unhealthy, but it’s the weird sort of way that my family bonds, and it’s special.

This vacation that I hope gets planned is also an attempt to have more family time. I’m aiming for a recreation of a childhood vacation, where we traveled to Vermont. The two activities that are most vivid in my memory are the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream factory tour, and the Vermont Teddy Bear Factory tour.

For the past few years my family has been having fewer and fewer vacations together, what with the recession, and two students in college, two parents at work, and few over lapping vacation days, but I’m really pushing for this Vermont vacation to happen because I think it’s important for us to spend time together—and who doesn’t love ice cream and teddy bears? The point is, spend some time with your family, the summer is a great opportunity for that. My sister’s been working with my grandmother to put together a family tree and organize old photos; maybe you could do something like that with your own family. I think you’ll find it worth your while.

/elizabeth Kaleko, Tufts University

Photo by Normal Rockwell

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