Family Meals are Memories Made.

Allocating a moment to sit down and have a meal with your family may not seem necessarily worthy of one’s time, but embracing family meals will quickly change this perception.

The fast food enterprise McDonalds has millions of outposts all over the world. If one goes into a McDonalds they’re offered efficient, calculable, predictable, and controlled service. A burger will be of the same quality and in your possession just as quickly from one McDonalds outpost to the next. This routine theory of McDonald’s operation is called McDonaldization, and its expanding past the fast-food enterprise.

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If one can achieve a task with efficiency, calculability, predictably, and control, most people will opt to do so. Therefore the idea of family dinner is becoming less and less appealing. But family dinner should not be one of these McDonaldized societal processes. Consuming food that one standardly likes, at a time which is most convenient for their individual self may be easy and increasingly popular, but it is not always right. The emphasis of family dinners is decreasing, meanwhile solo dining is on the rise.

When eight students spoke about their dining habits at college they unanimously preferred to eat at least one meal a day with others. Eating with others fosters community, conversation, and compassion. Though the act of hitting pause on one’s daily duties and eating with others may not be convenient, it is certainly beneficial.

Caroline Wapel had nightly dinner with her Mom and Sister where they would talk about their days, she said “It was the one time of the day where you put your homework aside, you didn’t really think about anything else, and it was kind of a time to focus, focus on other people and how they’re doing.” Caroline learned not just about her family at dinner but about the world.

“We’d talk about what went on that day, if something bad happened, and It opened your eyes to the fact that the world doesn’t revolve around you, it opens your eyes to the bigger picture. A lot of things go on.”

At family dinners there is a variety of discussions. While some families have Jeopardy playing on the television as background noise, incase the conversation gets stale, others play a game of “highs and lows,” where each family member discusses the best and worst parts of their day.

At Ajna Kertisz grandparents home they listen to the radio every night in silence, while at home with her Mother she has what she calls “meaningful conversation.” Ajna’s Mom and her discuss topics including school, friends, recent news, books, or their shared love of theatre and the plays they have seen. But, Ajna says the conversations she likes the most are “when it’s about like family matters, and like stories, my Mom tells me about when she was younger … it just really like brings my Mom closer to me,” Ajna says these meaningful conversations help her understand her Mom more.

Due to colliding daily schedules Caroline explained that simply knowing about her family member’s daily life was difficult and family meals were “a good way to keep updated with everyone and how their lives are going.”

Maggie Wallace, another child raised with family meals, reveals that because life is so busy and hectic at times, family dinners are a relief. Maggie says “My family would be so busy with sports and everything, so we would rarely all be together throughout the day, so having a family dinner, sitting down together, was always nice.” Maggie’s family even waits until 7:00 pm for her Dad to return home from work, so that the entire family is present for their shared meal.

Fiona Flood who has weeknight family dinners with her Mother and Sister while her Father works and has full family meals on weekends agreed that family meals, with whoever you can get around the table, are “a good way to end the day, and bring your family together.”

As a college freshman, Angela Tonrey says,

“I love them. I miss them a lot.”

Therefore, she enjoys and seeks the company of her friend’s for meals while she is away from home. Angela’s good friend, Madison Auer, said that her family meals instilled in her “values.” Values which Auer uses daily to guide her treatment of others and particularly her friends. Friends quickly can become family and their companionship may mimic an individual’s family. Madison explains that eating with others is “good because then you can talk, and if you’re stressed about something you can talk about that, and it releases your stress.”

ILLUSTRATION BY NICOLE RIFKIN

Every family’s mealtime is a different experience. Nothing about family meals is particularly efficient, calculable, predictable, or controlled. The meal could be twenty minutes or it could be an hour. A family member may discuss something unexpected or unbeknown to others. No one is guaranteed to enjoy themselves at the meal. Infact, no one is guaranteed anything, but they come to be fed and as discovered they leave with a lot more than a full stomach.

Family meal time must persist in the face of Mcdonaldization. Because something is potentially easier does not make it better. All eight individuals who grew up with family meals defended their continuation and longed for their family meals, in addition they planned to host family meals in the future with their own families.

So maybe not every meal will be memorable, sometimes Jeopardy will be the only sound or the old,

“How was your day?”
“Good.”

conversation will occur, but frequent family meals should be prioritized nonetheless.

One usually cooks on the front burner, so why even consider putting family meals on the back one?

Yes, a family meal is a gamble, but go ahead and roll the dice.

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