Suffice it to say, growing up the kitchen was the one room in the house where everyone constantly congregated. Friends, family, and pets – everyone ended up sitting at the kitchen table, eating something; cookies and milk, popcorn and ice cream sodas or a real home cooked meal. The kitchen was the place it all happened and the table was the center of it all. Mom always believed in having plenty of food to share with whoever walked in the door, so even if dinner was over and a friend showed up, it wasn’t uncommon to pour a bowl of cereal and milk and have a seat at the kitchen table for a chat. Stories were told, jokes were shared, fights were fought and tears were shed. It was just the place where it all came to be.
The same was true for my husband’s family of nine children. Their kitchen table, though much larger than mine was always the center of activity. Of course, someone was always eating at all times of day there but, I know long hard talks were happening as well. Lectures on life, discussions regarding discipline and, confidences between mother and child were just as prevalent at this meeting place.
Today, I have my own family, and yes, we too tend to sit at the kitchen table for many a reason besides eating a meal. I suppose the kitchen table could also be considered a “conference table” for the home. I think that’s a good thing. Not only do we get our money’s worth from this piece of furniture, but we also tend to make many memories there…and that, is what life is all about.
Why are our kids so averse to eating healthy food? When I was growing up, it just wasn’t an issue. It never occurred to us that we could “turn-down” what was presented on our plate. There just didn’t seem to be this all-out war against fruits and vegetables.
So what’s changed? I picked my apples and pomegranates off a tree in our backyard. My daughter can pick them out of a bowl in our kitchen. Our vegetables were procured via the vegetable truck cruising through our neighborhood with the caller announcing what was available and freshly picked that morning. I now get mine from Whole Foods or the local farmer’s market.
Maybe the way we acquire food these days is not as “fun” but certainly the quality is just as good. My generation seems to have a deep-rooted love for healthy, balanced meals. Are we genetically hard-wired to love fruits and vegetables? Does this gene skip a generation? Or, have we ruined our children’s taste buds with all things processed?
These kids simply don’t know what they are missing. What a pity!
I was thinking the other day about our picnics growing up in the Midwest. My parents had a group of friends that were tabbed “The Picnic Group” and several times during the summer, all the families would meet at a local state park for “breakfast in the woods”. Upon reflection, these outings were quite the ordeal.
Having recently visited my hometown all the details of my family picnic came into focus. Here’s how it would play out. For “breakfast in the woods,” we would have to get to the park by 8am so we could save several of the “good” tables. No problem, except for the preparation of the day’s event. “How hard could that be,” you say? Well, rewind to what would take place up until the time we would leave the house. Dad was in charge of the ice chests, which meant he froze milk cartons full of water in the freezer the night before so we could have plenty of ice for two coolers. This was pre-ice maker days so making ice was a major project. He would peel the ice out of the milk carton and pick it into smaller chunks spreading homemade cubes into the coolers. Then he’d fit all the food for the day in one, and drinks in the other usually cursing the entire time because it never all fit and would require rearranging multiple times before just shoving it all in. Being the only guy in the house he then had to haul everything from the basement to the car. This whole process would take at least 6o minutes.
Now, taking a look at the kitchen, my mother was scurrying around preparing and organizing breakfast for the picnic which would include potatoes, bacon, eggs, (to put in the cooler and be made at the park) coffee made from the percolator coffee pot, then poured into a thermos and some sort of fresh baked coffeecake. Lunch prep required her to actually fry the chicken, and place in a special foil-lined container (I can still picture it) to stay warm for 5 hours, and then coordinate dinner; hamburgers, buns, fixings, chips, pre-baked beans and some sort of homemade dessert. Keep in mind; my mom did not skimp on anything including homemade oatmeal, peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies to snack on throughout the day. Well, you get the picture.
In retrospect, my parents must have been up all night so we could experience all the joys of a day in the woods. I’m exhausted just thinking about it. But it sure was fun for us kids and obviously the memories have lasted a lifetime. Thanks Mom and Dad. We had a great time!
According to Webster’s, dinner is defined as the principal meal of the day, or a formal feast, and supper is defined as the evening meal when dinner is taken at midday, or a light meal served late in the evening. Growing up, we used these words interchangeable. They both meant that food was on the table and it was time to eat.
I never realized how Southern I sounded until I moved two hundred miles north. My language was fodder for my northern friends. I could never really predict what would send them into fits of laughter. I eventually learned to be selective of my word choices. I tempered my “ya’lls, “bless your heart” “uppity” and “gussied up”. I even worked “supper” out of my vocabulary, because for some reason it made me feel a bit old-fashioned.
But today, I find “supper” slipping back into my thoughts, if not my words. It brings back memories of my childhood when my grandmother’s supper meant a light informal meal served on Sunday evening, timed to perfection, allowing us to gather in front of the TV to watch the Sunday Night Disney Movie, followed by The Ed Sullivan Show. It’s not as easy to create those same experiences for my daughter. We usually have to bribe her with ice cream for her to hang out with us after “supper”. Now, if we can only find something we all want to watch on TV together…
What are kids eating now days?
It’s been a while since I had to deal with coaxing little children into eating their fruits and vegetables. I was actually very fortunate my kids ate just about anything I put in front of them. When they were young toddlers I just mashed up whatever was on the dinner table that we adults were eating- no options were given, and everyone ate the same thing. Perhaps I was lucky that my children were not picky eaters, or maybe I just never gave them the chance to be finicky.
Having just spent the last couple of weeks with my two little granddaughters ages 3 and 6, I must say I’m proud of their eating habits. The three year-old eats a BIG bowl of oatmeal for breakfast (unsweetened!) and just about anything else you put in front of her especially strawberries. The six year old will eat fruit all day long if given the chance. She loves mangoes, strawberries, bananas; the list goes on which thrills me to no end. Their parents have done a great job of making their diet full of healthy meals and snacks having followed in my footsteps of eating what’s on the table. It’s a win-win for everyone.
I want to strongly encourage everyone to lead by example, and fight the fight to make children eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. It will be worth it in the long run. It’s important and really about establishing healthy eating habits for life.
And that’s food for thought.