When I was a kid, we picked up fast food on the way home from gymnastics just about every night. Except Fridays. On Fridays, we had pizza from this place.
But with very few exceptions, we almost always ate dinner in front of the TV. We’d let out a collective groan when we “had” to eat at the table (e.g., Thanksgiving). I mean, how uncomfortable is that? So much easier and way more fun to watch TV and eat. We even had some pretty sweet TV trays. They were, of course, some kind of plastic I think, but made to look like wood. Very cool and very 1980s.
When I got older, I began to wonder what it would be like to have family dinners at the table and talk about our days. I don’t mean to say that we didn’t talk, but the TV was always the fifth member of the family. When I met my husband, we started eating in front of the TV until we decided that it was too easy not to talk. So we started having “normal” dinners. I am surprised at this point, more than a decade later, that I am barely able to tolerate eating in front of the TV. It’s distracting. And loud. And I can’t concentrate on how my food tastes. Maybe I’m just getting old, but I like to eat slowly and talk and laugh during dinner. These dinners have become one of my most favorite parts of my day.
You might remember that my house was broken into a couple weeks back. I got pretty creeped out by it and hubs and I decided we’d ask my parents to fly in to babysit me and the house because hubs had to go to the East Coast for work for a good 2 weeks.
My parents and I get along really well. It’s easy and silly and I feel like a little kid–but in a good way. And we quickly revert back to what hubs and I now call “carpet picnics”: dinner upstairs on the carpet in front of the TV. We’ll watch Wheel or Jeopardy! (please don’t get me started on my true disdain for these shows) and the show will provide us with reason to interact. This past week, my Mom even busted out an old favorite dinner of mine from back in the day. When we didn’t have McD’s or Burger King, actually my Dad would make this dinner for us:
Salmon patties made with canned salmon, eggs, breadcrumbs, salt, pepper and some love. Mashed potatoes made with butter and milk. And to round it out, some salad. It was quite filling and so deliciously nostalgic for me. In keeping with the spirit of things, we had a carpet picnic.
The following night, I cut a deal with my parents that I would return the favor and make dinner for us. I busted out the wok and made some killer stir fry with tofu, eggplant, bok choy, chili garlic paste and topped it off with some fresh basil. But the deal included eating at the table. And guess what? We had a great time just talking. I learned that both of my parents had dinner at the table every night.
I think what changed things for most people was when TV started to become the newest person in the room. Hence the TV trays and I guess now some people just have TVs in their kitchens. I find this to be extremely sad. I will admit that when I’m alone, though, I will eat in front of the TV for the company. I always try to convince myself to eat with a book but never seem to get that done. It’s on my list. Because for me, TV represents the dumbing down of everyone. Including me. And unless it’s a great movie or sporting event, I really shouldn’t even turn the darn thing on.
You can run after satisfaction, but satisfaction must come from within.
Question: Do you eat in front of the TV? What do you watch?