“Kids, Dinner!” A phrase I am sure many of you have heard and indeed uttered at some point in your life. What usually follows is the whole family sitting around the dining table enjoying a meal while chatting about their day and current news topics. My family dinners took over an hour because my sister and I spent too much time talking and not eating! Dinner was where families came together to spend time with each other after being out the whole day either at school or work.
However, the dynamic of family dinners have changed over time and not all families are together at the dining table anymore. Research has shown that 38% of families regard the TV as an integral part of dinner time. I remember the first time that we ate dinner in front of the TV because MasterChef was on and it quickly became a tradition that whenever MasterChef was on, we would eat dinner.
In our modern society where both parents are working, there is often not much time to cook which may means frozen dinners and staggered dinner times. The first notion of TV dinners came in 1954 when Swanson frozen TV dinners hit the American market. They were an instant hit with over 10 million dinners sold with each costing $0.98 for the consumer, with each meal consisting of three compartments with turkey and 2 side dishes. The Swanson & Sons company capitalised on the recent acquisition of TV sets by Americans and duly called them TV dinners.
With the modern capabilities of a mobile phones and streaming services such as Netflix, people no longer feel the need for others to visually stimulate them. There is a difference however, between passive stimulation of a TV compared to the active stimulation of a conversation with another human. The act of sitting down and eating a meal with your family is often lost on us because it is so simple.
As I got older and my schedule became more hectic I found I was eating at different times than my family. This is a natural course of adulthood but I only realised the importance of a shared meal when it had gone. As we grow older we form our own identities and drift form our families, but children re-learn to cherish family dinners when they come back and touch base with their parents.
My mum had a lot of funny work stories to tell and instances where food escaped my nostrils from laughter became common at dinnertime. Dad was usually quieter as he listened to the stories of his family but I always remember that my parents never brought any work or home issues to the dinner table because it was a time for enjoyment and light-heartedness.
So, as we go about our busy lives trying to fit in as much as possible in the limited time we have, it is important to remember to stop and relax. This isn’t something new for us to hear, yet saying it and implementing it is a whole different challenge. The beauty of a family dinner is in the simplicity of it. It is a meal with the people you love the most, that you only really miss once they are gone.
Amay Nagar is a student at Swinburne University studying communications. He is an avid sports follower with his own sports blog and his other hobbies include rewatching tv shows and questioning the norms.
This article was written and produced as part of the CREATE Media Arts Internship Program.
Laneway Learning has partnered with The Mentorship to deliver this exciting new program to support young people aspiring to work within the creative media and arts sectors.