Growing up as a traditional Mennonite in the 1950s, in the homes of almost everyone I knew, sitting down for dinner together every night was just what people did. Today, not so much. Sunday night was the only night we did not do that: it was Mom’s night off, when Daddy made popcorn and everyone was encouraged/allowed to make a sandwich, eat leftovers, or grab a bowl of cereal before heading off to Sunday evening services.
Popcorn night itself became a beloved family tradition that I carried over to my own family.
We also usually had family devotions at breakfast, even on school mornings. In summer, our main meal of the day was at noon, but during the school year, it shifted to supper, after evening chores. There were of course a few times when we deviated from sitting down together: if Daddy worked late in
the field, Mom either held supper for him on the stove, or we carried it to him in the field for an impromptu picnic. As we grew older, they would sometimes go to banquets or dinner meetings/Sunday school class potlucks without us, and we loved cooking for ourselves. Games or sport practices meant we ate what Mom saved on the stove when we got home.
Eating together was the family glue, even if at times conversations got testy or water was spilled. Our meals were relatively simple but wholesome and mostly from the garden or our own beef and eggs. Today scholarly studies show that regular mealtimes together give much more than wholesome food: they help parents connect with kids, who are then less likely to get involved in drugs and tobacco, according to studies done by Columbia University’s National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse. Children thrive best with quality parental attention.
Stay tuned to Amish Wisdom – next Friday we’ll feature a recipe from Whatever Happened to Dinner?
Melodie M. Davis is the author of nine books, most recently, Whatever Happened to Dinner: Recipes and Reflections for Family Mealtime (Herald Press, 2010). She writes the syndicated column, Another Way, serves as a managing editor for Herald Press, and is also editor of a local family publication, Valley Living. She keeps a blog where she features frequent recipes from her home, family and church life. She is married and the mother of three adult daughters and two grandsons.
Purchase Melodie’s books here.