Yesterday, right there below the fold of the front page, there was a whole story on people trying to get dinner on the table. It was exciting to find a topic so close to my heart right there, and I admit that there was a bit of pride of ownership. I was onto the Crisco Challenge way before The Times. [They must have done the same Google search that I did.] The long article had a lot of the familiar discussion with lots of statistics about how healthier kids are when there’s a regular family dinner. It reported that "children who eat dinner with their families regularly are less likely to get involved with drugs and alcohol than those who do not. They also tend to get better grades, exhibit less stress and eat better." They didn't mention that having dinner at home can be cheaper, that cooking dinner together can be a way to connect, or that the food can be much better when you make it yourself. But then they didn't consult me. This one Upper East Side woman kind of got to me:
"We try to have dinner together every night, and sometimes that means not eating until 9 o'clock," said Ms. Tatge, who lives on the Upper East Side. "But I think it's really important. We always have candlelight. It sets the mood and calms everyone down."I don’t know, the candlelight kind of puts me off; it has that nuance of competition, that throwing down of the gauntlet (oven mitt?) that makes me cringe.
The article also mentioned the impulse to over-schedule ourselves (something I’m prone to do) and our children. For me, having a full calendar gives me the sense that I’m important, I’m popular and busy. But when I over-schedule myself I see the effect it has on everything else in my life, and I take myself away from what is meaningful, sometimes hard, occasionally thankless, often tiring, and extremely satisfying: making dinner for my family.