Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

After a good dinner, one can forgive anybody, even one’s own relations. Oscar Wilde

When family gets together and the laughs just keep coming we feel filled up with joy. A family dinner last night was one of those. When we can come together and feel the warmth and togetherness it is worth the bother of two days of preparation.

Getting together to share a meal is one of our most ancient traditions. Through food, we share ourselves, time and attention. Family stories are shared, memories are created, we relax in the warmth at the table and it is believed the family that eats together stays together.

Anytime families get together it usually involves food. It may be a family picnic in a park taking up several picnic tables and barbeques. It may be more formal in a restaurant, or in a home.

It doesn’t matter what is served, it doesn’t matter how large the family is. What matters is that someone bothers to bring the family together and they reconnect and bond.

Usually, someone is responsible for hosting, inviting, and setting things up. It may be a position they jealously hold, everyone feels they would be hurt if anyone else tried to host. The problem with relying on one person like Grandma, Mom, or Aunty is what happens when something happens to Grandma, Mom or Aunty?

Family dinners may be the glue that holds us together. As young families, we talk with our children about their day. It may be the only time we have together, where all we concentrate on is food and each other.

If we don’t create these times when we talk and laugh we may miss the closeness that develops through family dinners. Do we have anything that can take the place of the family dinner for bonding and closeness?

All great change begins at the dinner table. Ronald Reagan

A study from a team of South Korean researchers suggests that frequently eating meals alone may lead to poorer food choices and eating habits. The study found men who eat alone more than twice a week have a greater risk of developing high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.

When children eat with their families it is not only about preventing bad outcomes – it is also about developing good ones. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development looked at data from nearly three-quarters of the world’s countries. Among its findings were children who shared a main meal with their families were less likely to skip school. Family dinners are strongly linked to children less likely to abuse drugs or alcohol. Teens that have frequent family dinners are more likely to say their parents know a lot about what is going on in their lives. When teens feel closer to their parents they are less likely to use drugs or alcohol.

A study from the University of Montreal found that children that eat with their families experience long-term physical and mental health benefits. These children were in better physical shape, drank fewer sugary drinks, had better social skills, and were less aggressive. Family meals may also help children with social interaction, discussion of social issues and better communications skills as they learn to discuss day-to-day concerns.

Staying connected is one of the big challenges of our time. It is easy to lose connection with our loved ones if we don’t make time to talk. Eating together is the easiest time to talk and laugh. It is worth it to try to eat more meals together. Getting together for celebrations with our extended family is a way to keep our bonds tight. We all have to eat, eating together may be one of the easiest things we can do to create connection, impart values, and bond.

I applaud everyone that has family dinners. Your family is probably reaping the rewards. If our families could do with more closeness, maybe we can fit in a family dinner here and there. If life is what we make it, making dinner and eating together may be the best thing we can do for our family. We all have to eat, why not eat together more often? Could it be the change to make the world better?

Taking time for each other is the key for harmony in the home and in marriage. Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Dinners are defined at the ultimate act of communion; men that can have communion in nothing else can sympathetically eat together, can still rise into some glow of brotherhood over food and wind. Thomas Carlyle

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