There’s a lot out there about the importance of having dinner together as a family. I’m a fan. One strong memory from my childhood is that at 5:30 p.m every single day, my family sat down to a meal my mother had cooked for us.
She was a good cook and adventurous cook. In central Pennsylvania in the 1980s, she found the one Japanese grocery and always went there to buy rice, and sometimes seaweed, and sometimes (as a special treat for us) rice candy. She took on local Pennsylvania Dutch culture by learning to make stuffed hog maw (pig stomach stuffed with potatoes, sausage, cabbage, and carrots) —oh, and this wasn’t just a novelty. I remember eating hog maw often enough that it was almost a staple).
(Wow, you might think my need to stuff things—pumpkins, apples—is genetic. You might be right.)
I make dinner every day, too, and the boys and I eat together (sometimes my husband is home in time to join us, but often not; even if I don’t eat with the boys, I always sit with them and talk about their day).
Family dinner, as you can tell, is important to me. It’s a way for us to connect at the end of the day. I can hear about what happened at school. My husband (if he’s home in time) and I can talk about our days. Family dinner is not just important to me; there’s an organization called The Family Dinner Project that’s devoted to getting families to eat together–with food, conversation, and fun. They simply want to get families to sit down together for dinner….you know, the way many families used to.
Their site has tips on how to get everyone together, topics of conversation (if you need them), food ideas, and so much more. They’re kicking off the #familydinnerforward campaign for Giving Tuesday (Dec. 2) and the holiday season by inspiring “dinner-oriented acts of giving.” Go to their page to find tips on talking about Giving Tuesday as a family. They also have some great ideas for dinner-oriented acts of giving as well as a Twitter/Instagram contest. Read on!
To participate in #familydinnerforward, simply snap a dinner/giving-related photo and share it via Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #familydinnerforward. You can share as many photos as you like and all photos tagged on Twitter or Instagram with #familydinnerforward between December 2-16 will be entered to win prizes from Lenox! Two winners will be drawn at random and will receive four 4-piece plate settings of the Lenox Entertain 365 pattern of their choice (estimated value of $344-400 depending on pattern chosen)! US entrants only. Be creative! But here are some examples of dinner-oriented acts of giving you’re welcome to use:
- Cook (or buy) a meal for a neighbor or someone in need.
- Invite someone for family dinner: We did this recently! It’s always scary for me to invite people over for dinner–we have to clean! Our kitchen is small! Why are all the cloth napkins down in the laundry? Someone needs to buy beer and wine! If the people have never been to my house before (and likely they haven’t been, since I rarely invite people over), I usually warn them I live in a small cluttered place full of tornado-like children. The people show up anyway–and we have a really nice dinner and evening and I wonder why we don’t have friends over for dinner every week.
- Collect and donate food items to a food pantry
- Help deliver meals via a community organization
- Cook a meal together at home, where everyone has a job (this is a gift to the person who primarily does the cooking!)
- Give the gift of meaningful conversation (check out the conversation starters at http://thefamilydinnerproject.org/giving-tuesday/
- Talk about giving during family dinner and show us what you decide to give this season
So many great tips as we prepare for Thursday and the rest of the holiday season. Enjoy your holiday and your conversations!
[Disclosure: This is a sponsored post (AKA “compensated editorial partnership with The Family Dinner Project.” All opinions and memories of hog maw are my own.]