Growing up my family of four had a nightly tradition of eating dinner together. Our family dinners were a carousel of kid-friendly dishes like tacos, spaghetti, stuffed bell peppers and pot roast with mashed potatoes, along with more adventurous recipes found in cookbooks. These dishes sparked my earliest culinary interest which I shared a bit about last year, here.
Family dinners in our home had some serious rituals involved… each of us sat in the same seat every night (even when I was a senior in high school), the tv was always turned off and my least favorite, we each had to drink a glass of milk with our dinner. My parents never forced my sister or I to finish our plate of food but there was no way in hell we were leaving that table without drinking our milk. Now, as an adult, I cannot stomach a glass of milk and I think it is because I drank more than enough in my youth. And… for the record while I am on the subject, tacos + milk = bad, as does chile rellenos + milk, spring vegetable pasta + milk and chicken wings + milk. I know my parents had the best of intentions and kids need the calcium/nutrients but holy cow, milk is not what I want to drink with 99% of my meals.

(a near perfect image of the table my family had growing up… brings back so many memories)
Just like any kid, I got frustrated with our family dinner nights from time to time. I hated being pulled away from a favorite tv show to eat dinner and I would have loved to eat in my room while I worked on my stacks of homework. Yet, looking back now, the routine of family dinners created so many positive memories for me. My family talked, like really talked about our lives, our days, things that made us happy and plans for our future. We would tell hilarious stories that would have us in tears and I got to know my family on such deep levels. Often times we would be completely done with our food but our conversations kept us lingering around the dining room table, not wanting to leave.
As an adult I love the repetition involved in family dinners and eating with my husband. While we do not always sit at our dining room table and more often than not, the tv is on, we have created a family dinner tradition that fits our lives and makes me excited about coming home each night for a meal together.

(pictures through the years of my family and our dining room table)

On mondays, you can count on us eating breakfast for dinner and you can bet I will most likely capture it for instagram. In the summers, we live and breath by our bbq. This tradition was started from necessity… as we did not have air conditioning in our last home. The last thing ryan and I wanted was to heat up our house by cooking with the oven or stove. However, it pushed us to be creative and learn some new recipes that were bbq-friendly. Lately we have been spending more and more weekend evenings at home; this has allowed for us to spend some extra time in the kitchen together, cooking up a more labor-intensive dish or trying out new recipes.

I am a sucker for traditions, routines and rituals so it is no surprise that family dinners hold such a special place in my heart. As I am looking back now, I think our family dinners were a major starting point to additional traditions within our family.

What are your family dinner traditions? Did you grow up eating dinner together every night too? 

Written by Jaime
South on Broadway is a Denver based food + lifestyle blog for lovers of food, fashion and design. a destination for daily inspiration

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