Mummy has been busy all the evening preparing a special dish for dinner. She has recently attended a friend’s party and got this recipe of a mouth-watering Italian dish from her hostess. Although she is feeling tired, she is looking forward to an excited response from her family, who she expects will praise her culinary art after enjoying the delicious dish.
Dinner is laid out and everyone is called to the table. But what happens is disappointing for the mother who has toiled a good part of the evening preparing it! Daddy is busy on the computer and requests for his plate to be brought to him saying, “I have to reply urgently to an important e-mail and can not leave the computer. You never know when we will have a power breakdown”. The eldest son comes out of his room, and hurriedly piles the pasta and the gravy on his plate, pours the sauces and heads back to his room. Mummy protests, “Where are you going”? He replies, “Mummy I have to give a presentation in University tomorrow, and my friend has come to help me, so I will have dinner in my room”. The daughter is watching her favourite soap on the TV. “Mummy can I take my plate to the TV lounge”, she announces more than she seeks permission, and off she goes too from the dining table with her share of the meal. After the long and tiring preparation of the special dish, a frustrated Mummy is left on the table with her youngest one. She eyes him musing thoughtfully, “Maybe in a couple of years he too would find activities more interesting than the family get together at dinner”.
This is a normal scenario in nearly every household. Dinner time was once considered the most important time of the day, when the family got together each night. It was the time to rebond, relax, communicate and build a stronger and healthier relationship with each other, and the members actually looked forward to it, considering it the ‘prime time’ of the day. Jokes were cracked, memories were shared and favourite family anecdotes told and retold. Many times small problems were discussed and solved. Children learnt table manners from their elders. They also learnt to share responsibilities, as they helped out Mummy in laying the table and clearing it up. The elder ones took turns at washing or drying dishes. It was the time to care and share. But gradually all of us have become too busy in our personal activities to enjoy this family get together any more. We consider it a waste of time because we usually take a longer time at the table when we are having dinner together and we can hardly afford this extra time more than once or twice during the whole week.
The trend of running back to whatever we were doing before dinner was laid out, with our plates loaded with food, is a very unhealthy trend for family life. During the days we all have to follow our own routines. Daddy is busy with his job (or business) and the children have to attend their educational institutions, and most of them come home at different times. Mummy is busy in her daily household chores, and if she is a working mother, she has to manage her job as well. Having lunch at the same time is not possible. Every one of us takes his/her meal according to his/her own convenience.
Dinner is the time to be together, when, at the end of the day, all of us should suspend our personal activities and carve out an hour which is only meant for the family. While sharing a meal we are usually talking to each other, thus relaxing and building a better communication. The main advantage of having dinner together is that we all remain in touch, have knowledge of each other’s activities and problems, seek support and give out friendly advice to our family members. It gives us a chance to share our views on current issues and receive encouragement on our achievements. Dinner time is also the best time for making plans for up coming family events or for the weekends. It is also the time to share the events of the day, news and ideas and best of all, just to be together and enjoy each other’s company. So, whether Mummy cooks something special for dinner, or it is just the good old Aloo Gosht for the main course, be sure to make dinner time the ‘Prime Time’ of the day.