The Shifting Traditions of Family Mealtimes

The last parsonage my parents lived in had an eat-in kitchen and separate dining room. We sat around a Formica topped table in the kitchen for breakfast and supper. We ate Sunday dinner around the wood table complete with table cloth.

Most weeks Sunday dinner was either roast beef or fried chicken. If granny was visiting with us the kitchen would be fragrant with her rising yeast rolls too.

The three meals in my parents home were breakfast, dinner and supper. 

My generation took to  calling the noon meal lunch. Dinner and supper became interchangeable. That was the first change I noticed.

Growing up, eating out was a rarity for our family. Eating breakfast around the table as a family was not.

Breakfast as a family did not happen with our children. My husband was usually gone for work as we were getting up. I wasn’t a much of a morning person so when they started school breakfast was a bowl of cereal. By the time they were in grade 4 or 5, they made it themselves.

Sunday dinner? Nope. Getting kids up and ready for church which included Sunday school did not have me interested in prepping for a big meal. 

Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash

Supper was around the table. When our kids started playing sports I made a point to have meals that could be put together quickly or in a crockpot. I didn’t want the drive-through to replace time together around the table.

The family table is where we said grace together and talked without distractions. It’s where our young son told us what the neighbor said about his brother drinking beer. It’s where the asked us questions about theology one of their teachers was talking about. We talked about winning and losing and doing your best. We laughed a lot.

Our son-in-law cooks supper almost as frequently as our daughter does. They also sit together around the table trying to minimize distractions. I’m not sure I know anyone who has family breakfast together.

Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash

Like so many things in retirement, we’ve been creating new routines for mealtimes too. This is the first time in our married life we’ve been home together for 3 meals a day almost every day.

Supper has become something I’m more intentional about. My timing on preparation is better and I try to include more variety. 

When I was single a tuna sandwich was enough supper for me. Or a burrito from Taco Bell. Why cook for one person? Even now if I find myself on my own for supper the only time I’ll cook is if it’s eggs. Or to reheat something. Is reheating actually cooking? 

The traditions of family meal times have changed. But the importance of gathering around the table is still honored. 

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