Sunday dinner: The family tradition we need to bring back

Do you want a way to stay connected with the family? It is time to bring the tradition of gathering back to the table.

When I was a kid on Long Island, Sunday lunch was one thing. We never talked about it, but everyone knew that the end of the weekend meant we had a long-term appointment with my maternal grandparents. It was time to hang out at home, see your loved ones and taste kosher food. At that time sliced ​​pastrami slices and sour cucumbers were of no particular importance to me. But now, as an adult at a distance of 100 miles from the next members of my family, I realize how important this family moment is.

“The family that eats together lives together,” says Dr. Vanessa Lapointe, a recognized psychologist and parenting expert. “The meal time has been a time of family friendliness in the past, and if you bring the generations together, there are a variety of age groups and interests, and it’s good for kids.”

My childhood was significantly influenced by the fact that my grandparents were only a short drive away and my aunt, uncle and cousin were within walking distance. My seven-year-old twins know and love their family, but sometimes there are few visits, unless it’s their birthday, vacation or any special occasion that requires a visit. Towards the New Year, I decided that it was wrong. After losing my father a few years ago, I began to realize that these moments spent together are not guaranteed. I wanted our family to be connected and not just caught up. So, without saying anything to anyone, I started a Sunday night tradition.

“We will come,” I said on the phone to my mother one Sunday morning. A few hours later, my sister, my cousin and I went to her house with a salad, wine and all the ingredients needed to prepare the pioneered Ziti. (If you have not done it, you have to do it, STAT!) We all have a busy schedule – going shopping, working, driving kids – but for a few hours this Sunday night, we decided to make a pause. Better yet, there was no other reason than Sunday. It was not everyone’s birthday or graduation, but we were there, everyone gathered around the table.

Anne Fishel, Ph.D., a family therapist and co-founder of The Family Dinner Project, a non-profit initiative that encourages families to connect during meals, tells me that there are many benefits for families to eat together. “The benefits range from cognitive (young children with extended vocabulary and older children with better academic results) to physical fitness (better cardiovascular health, decreased obesity and increased consumption of fruits and vegetables) to psychological addiction and less behavior problems in school). ”

Fishel says that what you eat does not matter – it’s the community environment you create that makes the difference.

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“These benefits do not come from a perfect roast chicken or organic tomato, but from the atmosphere around the table, in case of conflict, stone silence or a drunken parent, these benefits do not occur not.” It is important that the atmosphere around the table is warm and inviting, and that children know that they can talk safely and know that someone is listening to them. ”

One thing I learned about this family dinner tradition is that it costs a little effort, but it’s not insurmountable. We have overcome the road by alternating who we are going to – a Sunday is Mediterranean from me, the next barbecue of my sister. It does not happen every Sunday, but I can now say that I see my mother several times a month, not even a month, and that makes all the difference. Studies have shown that older adults thrive and live longer if they have consistent social interactions. For my children, real time offers an invaluable connection to the people of the world who are most interested in it. The opportunity to see my family gives me a hard time, especially since I moved to a city where we did not know anyone less than two years ago.

There are at least 16 occasions a week to eat together – seven breakfasts, seven dinners and two weekend lunches.

How to introduce a tradition of Sunday lunch

If the idea of ​​a Sunday dinner seems totally unrealistic to you, I know where you are from. But there are ways to put it into practice and the benefits you will enjoy are worth it, I promise you!

  • Remember that family can have different meanings. Not everyone has parents nearby, but do not overlook the fact that friends are your extended family, no matter where you are.
  • Sunday dinner does not have to be Sunday. Choose the day or time that suits you and your family. “Remember, there are at least 16 ways to eat together every week: seven breakfasts, seven dinners and two weekend lunches,” Fishel said. “An evening snack, where everyone breaks for homework or a computer, can also be an opportunity to share food, fun and entertainment.” Maybe your tradition is Taco Tuesday or Saturday after baseball in the dinner. It does not matter as long as you are together.
  • Keep things casual. The crucial point of Sunday dinner is that you do not want to have anything because it is a regular event, not a special occasion. This does not mean that you can not eat a special dish or drink, or try a new recipe, if that’s what you want, but the fact is that it should be easy and not stressful. (Remember my family’s deli!) “Stay simple and realistic,” says Lapointe. “Make sure you can really immerse yourself in the routine rather than being exaggerated – let everyone work, plan, cook and clean – so it’s more of a family affair than mom and dad’s job. . “
  • Put the kibosh on the electronics. It’s time to be together and everyone can manage a day of the week for a few hours without his equipment. An exception could be the use of technology to involve distant family members. “Take time with your family before or after FaceTime’s weekly family dinner to help bring the family closer to the experience, even if you’re away,” said Lapointe.
  • Plan ahead. The benefits of a family meal are many, but if you expect it to happen alone, you’ll never do it! “Plan it with your family, as you would with other important dates,” Fishel said. “This commitment to dinner, whether it’s one night a week or more, makes it a deliberate and shared priority.” Note in your calendar that you must visit your father and mother on the first Sunday of each month. in the middle of the month. If you dine with friends, swap someone else’s house every week. Do not give up if someone does not succeed, let it work until it becomes a routine.