Why I Love Family Dinners

When characters sit down to share a meal in literature, it is considered to be a kind of communion. This coming together of a group of people signals to the reader a developing deep connection between them. The characters spend intimate time with one another, forming close, often loving, relationships. Discovering this idea made me rethink my love of family dinners.

I have always loved going out to dinner with my family; it always felt like a special treat, a time to get a big meal, dessert, and spend time together. But I’ve also always loved having dinner at home, cooking for my family, and spending time at the table talking about our days (although it never really happened that often).

But ever since I came to college, I’ve noticed that my desire to eat out, cook dinner, or just share a meal with my family has increased radically. At first I just thought it was because I missed good, home-cooked meals after having to eat in the dining hall every day. But I’ve since realized that it’s actually the communion that I love, the coming together after being apart for so long.

It’s usually an unconscious decision, as we decide to celebrate coming home for break with a meal, or reminisce over dinner on the night before I leave to go back to school. But if I really think about it, my automatic reaction whenever I want to spend time with my family is to have a meal. I feel happy thinking about the lunch I’ll share with my dad when he picks me up for the weekend, or the car ride I get to take with my brother on the way to pick up take-out. Lunches with my mom must happen, without a doubt, every time I see her.

I thought it was the idea of a good meal that made me happy. But subconsciously, it was the thought of spending time with my family in a way that is universally recognized as a way to bring people together. It doesn’t matter the meal, there’s just an indescribable feeling of joy and love, whether it’s eating sweet potato fries at a small corner pizza shop or going out to an expensive brunch.

In this way, I think that food really is communion. I never appreciated meals as much as I have since leaving for college. But now, no matter the day, I’ll always accept an offer to eat with family or friends. If it’s coffee, dinner, or even a pan of brownies, you’ll find me there every time.