Growing up in a traditional Thamizh household, my father taught me the significance of sitting down with my family for dinner. Dinner was a time for de-stressing, a way of handling the hassles in daily life, enjoyed by everyone in my house after a long day at work or school. Sitting at the table together, praying, and expressing gratitude toward God for the food on our plates was of utmost importance.
There isn't anything like shoving down a plate of food with a can of soda as you watch the tube. My mom would pass around her favorite dishes, and we would see her face light up as we tell her how delicious the food is, praising her for the endless efforts she puts into her cooking, spreading her love through it. My dad cracks a joke occasionally and our guffaws would send the silverware tumbling.
The dinner table was where most of the talking happened. My dad and mom would talk about things at their workplaces. I tell them what I did at school. We talk about our futures and plan family outings. Dinner wasn't just dinner. It was therapy. Talking to the ones you love and hold so close to your heart is a kind of therapy, isn't it? And all this talking happened over a scrumptious meal of keera roti and meen kulambu (a type of flat, white bread with greens and fish curry).
I remember a time when I took a novel down to the dinner table (I read a great deal -sometimes I just cannot put a book down). My dad wasn't too happy about it and asked me to put it away. "Do one thing at a time" was exactly what he said, but in Thamizh. That was the first and the last time I took a book down to dinner (or anything for that matter). It was evident that dinner was important to him as it was the only time we were together in one place.
Dinner time with family brings a sense of belonging, strengthens the bonds between members, and builds better relationships. It is important to include small children as well, as it gives them a feeling of security and a chance to open up. Studies have also found that we tend to make healthier food choices and watch our portions if we sit together at a dinner table, and therefore, leading to a lower risk of developing obesity. Dinner is a great time to discuss potential issues that could be disturbing you physically or psychologically as well.
Whenever I'm home, I still make an effort to have at least one meal with my family every day. It's important to us. It keeps us close, intricately weaved into this beautiful fabric of togetherness. Rising from the table, our breadbaskets would be full, but so would be our hearts.
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