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My husband and I just finished watching the hit series, Mad Men. One of my favorite episodes was when Peggy Olsen shared the Burger Chef campaign idea to shoot the commercial in the restaurant. The concept was that the family dinner table could be somewhere outside of the home. “What if there was another table, where everyone gets what they want…there’s no laundry, no tv and no telephone.”
There are seasons in my life that our family doesn’t eat dinner around the table in our kitchen even once in a week. I’ve seen all of the research about family dinners, like the study from Cornell University, “Evidence suggests that children who take part in family meals are less likely to be overweight, eat more healthy foods, have less delinquency, greater academic achievement, improved psychological well-being, and positive family interactions.” And that’s the thing, I’m not saying we don’t have family meals around the dinner table, they just might not take place at OUR dinner table.
Sometimes I feel myself justifying to other people why we had to go out to eat dinner again, or why we ate a meal on the road or why I do things certain ways. After watching the Burger Chef Mad Men episode, I felt better about it all. Sometimes the family dinner table isn’t at home, and that’s okay.
When there are family dinner tables at places like Bob Evans, there’s no need to worry. I actually do get to spend more time with my children, chatting about school, learning about their friends and what they’re learning in school, what types of problems they are dealing with. At home? I’m constantly getting the next glass of milk for someone, cutting up food into tiny pieces, listening to complaining about what I’ve served. The dog is stealing food, the oven timer is screeching, the mail is stacked and waiting, the work emails are sitting there, the dishwasher needs to be emptied…and then dinner is over and there are more dishes, food to put away, tables to wipe, floors to clean…
Sometimes the family dinner table is somewhere besides your own kitchen, it’s wherever your family is together. And that’s great!