Few things I say evoke a horrible sense of dread in my wife like the words “Guess what I heard on CBC today?” Actually, I think that she’d rather go to the dentist than have to listen to me describe, in detail, the thought provoking story I heard and all of the thoughts it provoked in me. To be truthful, when I’m feeling passive aggressive, I tell her stories from CBC just to watch her squirm.
Regardless, not so long ago, during my hour long commute home, with only my friends on CBC to keep me company, I heard one of those stories that just needed to be shared with my wife. To my surprise, and delight, it started a really great discussion about keeping families together. It seems that current trends in home design across North America are doing away with dining rooms. The argument goes that houses need to be smaller and more efficient so the easiest “wasted space” to discard is the dining room. To me, it’s an appalling commentary on why so many families are self-destructing.
I insist that our family eat at least one meal together every day. Practical logistics (translation: managing bathroom times) prevent us from eating breakfast together, although the kids eat at our island while I prep everyone’s lunches. Lunches occur at work and school. So we always eat dinner together and we will make it happen regardless of barriers. On Wednesdays, when we need to be at swimming lessons for 5pm, we pick up the kids at school and eat at the gym before swim class. Both my wife and I come from families that ate dinner together and for us it’s not a tradition but a value that is so important.
I come from a family where eating is at the centre of all of our celebrations. I don’t remember vacations for amusements or sight seeing opportunities but describe them in terms of where and what we ate while we were away. When we were at Nanny’s during holidays, she had the idea of having our whole family make pasta from scratch and then eating it for dinner. This wasn’t an opportunity to save money. It was a great family building experience that was ultimately photographed and scrap booked.
The act of sharing food is beyond cultural. It is what separates us from beasts. Yes, I know that many animals share food with their young, but don’t be so literal. When we gather to eat, without distractions such as iPods, TV, radio, texts, email, etc and so forth, we stop for a short while and fill the silence with what happened during our days. Things get planned, everyone gets a chance for input and everyone can say what they want. There is nothing else to do but listen and respond. We fill our bellies with food and that’s good. We associate that good with communicating with each other. That’s good too. Really good.
So when I hear of anything eroding the eating experience, I get mad. Really mad and mad enough to blog about it. Get rid of the TV room, the rec room or the third bathroom. But don’t give us another excuse to go our separate ways. Too much is pulling us apart already.