Something I wrote in a December 2004 end-of-semester post for a class reading Homer's Odyssey:
As you move away from your parents' oikos and toward making one of your own, remember the importance of sharing with family and friends the pleasures of meals and conversation. Sharing food and drink and talk is one of the practices that make us human. (Isn’t it sad that we need television commercials to encourage us to eat together at the family table?)Some good news in today's New York Times:
After decades of decline in the simple ritual of family dinners, there is evidence that many families are making the effort to gather at the dinner table. A random nationwide survey by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University found a recent rise in the number of children ages 12 to 17 who said they ate dinner with their families at least five times a week, to 58 percent last year from 47 percent in 1998.In my house, the dinner window, so to speak, is sometimes a mere twenty minutes. But we plan accordingly and, as the sign says, EAT.
Getting everyone around the table can be a huge juggling exercise for overworked parents and overscheduled children. But many parents are marshaling their best organizational skills to arrange dinners at least once a week.
"There's definitely an awareness that was not there a few years ago," said Miriam Weinstein, author of "The Surprising Power of Family Meals: How Eating Together Makes Us Smarter, Stronger, Healthier and Happier" (Steer Forth Press, 2005). "All the factors that have been working against family dinners are still in full force, but it's very much a subject on people's minds."
» Families With Full Plates, Sitting Down to Dinner (New York Times)