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The Quiet Demise of Family Dinner

December 15, 2017

Happy Chanukah! I tell you, this is the holiday that just keeps on giving. Tonight will be the fourth night, and then we’re halfway done. Just last night were my first bonafide latkes of the year. Fox made the batter, formed the patties, and dropped them in the oil. She trusted me to mind the potatoes in the pan while she set out the rest of the feast.

Last night Little Miss Fussy took her dinner in the treehouse with Little Miss Fox. My son just wolfed down a couple of latkes in between homework problems. And that left Mrs. Fussy and me to enjoy ourselves at the adults’ table with friends. It was a lovely night, to be sure.

But when we got home, Mrs. Fussy asked when would be the next time we would have a quiet evening at home with just our immediate family?

It appears like that won’t be until 2018.

Okay, that sounds more dramatic than it may be. 2018 is just over two weeks away. But typically we have tried to make sure we spend at least a couple nights a week as a family around the dinner table.

Family dinner is important. It’s a value we share. But sometimes these values need to be protected. Still, on rare occasions, there is a confluence of factors that will throw you off the rails.

There is pretty much never a family dinner on Wednesdays. The boy has religious school in the evenings. This past semester, every other Monday was a late night at work for Mrs. Fussy. Last week, I was traveling for work. Then Mrs. Fussy had to travel for work. And now we are in the season of holiday parties. Every now and again there is a Yelp event. Kids come over for dinner. Our kids have their own parties to attend. And then there is holiday travel to see more of the family.

Let’s see how this plays out if everything goes according to plan for the rest of the year:

12/15 Chanukah dinner out with friends (4th night)
12/16 One kid down – the boy is out for a bar mitzvah
12/17 Latke dinner in Schenectady (6th night)
12/18 Little Miss Fussy is having friends over for dinner (7th night)
12/19 Yelp Event in Troy (8th night – oops)
12/20 The boy has religious school
12/21 Yelp Event in Schenectady
12/22 Drive Little Miss Fussy to Providence
12/23 One kid down – Little Miss Fussy is out of state
12/24 Noche Buena with Raf and his family
12/25 Christmas on the farm

And looking back, the last family meal we had was on Tuesday, December 5. I think we just had leftover black beans and rice. But I know for certain that Little Miss Fussy put some candles in pieces of candy to help me celebrate the birthday a day early.

You know, since I spent my actual birthday in the airports of three states.

It’s very possible that we’ve had our priorities out of whack over the past few weeks. It’s also possible, I suppose, that occasionally a confluence of factors can blow even the most resolute off track.

I’m glad Mrs. Fussy asked the question, because it forced me to examine what’s ahead and where we’ve been. But this would help explain why we are all feeling a bit unsettled these days.

Family dinner is a great time to reconnect with your loved ones. And while visiting with friends and extended family is also important, it satisfies a different set of goals. I remember when Little Miss Fussy was upset earlier this year because family dinner seemed to only happen a couple nights each week, as opposed to almost every night. Back then I decided to make an effort to reprioritize our meal times.

Looks like I’ll have to redouble my efforts in 2018.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. HokieMom permalink
    December 15, 2017 4:32 pm

    sometimes we would switch it up to family breakfast….maybe not as lively conversations, but we were still eating together at a single table

  2. December 16, 2017 2:13 am

    I recently attended a presentation on youth substance abuse. Part of it was 4 people in recovery sharing their stories. Only one of the people sharing was an adult. The other three were 14, 17 and 20. During a question and answer period they were asked if there was something that came to mind that might have prevented them from heading down the path they had taken. The 17 year old male (who was less than a year sober and had already spent several months as an inmate in Rikers) said, “Family dinner.”


  1. 7 and 7 on Saturday: December 16, 2017 – Chuck The Writer

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