Today is the tenth annual celebration of Family Day – A Day to Eat Dinner with Your Children. Family Day began as a grassroots initiative at the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University. Over the past decade it has grown into a national movement aimed at encouraging parents to participate in frequent family dinners as a tool to keep America’s children substance free. Family Day reminds parents that “what your kids really want during dinnertime is YOU!” and that family meals provide the pefrect opportunity to talk to kids about what’s going on in their lives.
When I was growing up my family ate dinner together every evening. My dad usually got home from work around five o’clock, and dinner was always served a half hour later. We didn’t eat elaborate gourmet meals, but dinner was special for another reason: it gave us time to catch up with each other and talk about how our days had gone, and about the good or not-so-good things going on in our lives. We usually spent twenty to thirty minutes eating, but sometimes the conversation was so good we’d sit around the table even longer or find a board game or deck of cards to keep the “family time” going. We weren’t a perefect family (what family is?), but I truly think the time we spent together influenced me and a lot of the decisions I’ve made in life. I was always a pretty good kid (and so was my brother, even if he wouldn’t want anyone else to know it), and the love and support of my family made me feel like I was capable of anything.
Chris and I wanted to celebrate Family Day because we both believe that there are few things more precious than spending time with family. Right now we have a bad habit of eating our dinners in front of the television, but we’ve both agreed that this is going to change once a baby comes into the picture. In preparation, last year I had our dilapidated antique dining room furniture fixed in anticipation of future use and we’re trying to make clearing off the large eating area on our kitchen counter part of our daily routine. When our little ones come along we’ll already have to spend so much time away from them since we’ll both need to work full-time, so dinner time will be a really important time for us as a family.