Besides eating together, the family dinner is the perfect place and time to catch up on the happenings of the day, find out what's on deck for the next day, and simply connect hearts. So while you're enjoying a good meal and good company, be sure you enjoy some good conversation.
To help our conversation along, I went to www.infoplease.com/spot/holidays.html to gather ideas for conversation starters. Not only did I find a boatload we could chat about while eating, I found oodles of ideas or themes, for building a family dinner around. There are the obvious holidays and the not-so-obvious special days. For instance, wouldn't it be fun to build a dinner around April Fool's Day? (I can see the fun table settings and see the crazy pranks now.) Discussion could center on the day's origin, some April Fool's tricks you pulled as a kid, and so on.
This is a country of causes--some very meaningful and some just goofy. But what super fodder for table talk. For instance: October is National Apple month, National Popcorn month, and Family History month. Desserts could center around apples (crisps, cobbler, pie, caramel, etc.), or perhaps popcorn balls. Table talk could center on trivia about Johnny Appleseed, or the history of popcorn. You could share stories about ancestors, memories with grandparents, and so on. You could ask your children what memories they have of grandparents, etc.
November is National Peanut Butter Lovers month, Model Railroad month, and National Aviation month. Besides the obvious, Christmas, December is also the month for Hi Neighbor, Read Books, and Write a Friend. All would be really great conversation starters at the table.
Here's a list of 50 Holidays and Causes, found on the above-mentioned site, that you might want to use as you gather your family to dinner:
1. Jan: Eye Care, Hobby, Soup, Thank You month
2. Feb: Heart, American History, Cherry, Pet Owner's month
3. Mar: Red Cross, Music in Schools, Craft, Art month
4. Apr: Guitar, Keep America Beautiful, Humor month
5. May: Bike, Flower, Older Americans, Strawberry month
6. Jun: Dairy, Fruit & Veggies, Zoo/Aquarium, Safety month
7. Jul: Blueberry, Hot Dog, Ice Cream, Picnic month
8. Aug: Foot Health, Golf, Inventors, Artist Appreciation month
9. Sep: Courtesy, Better Breakfast, School Success month
10. Oct: Family History, Apple, Popcorn month
11. Nov: Peanut Butter Lovers, Aviation, Model Railroad month
12. Dec: Hi Neighbor, Read Books, Write a Friend month
13. Nov: Buy Nothing Day
14. Sep: Car-Free Day
15. Apr: Turn OFF TV Week
16. Mar: Casimir Pulaski Day (in Illinois)
17. Apr: Patriots Day (Maine & Massachusetts)
18. Apr: San Jacinto Day (Texas)
19. Jun: King Kamehameha Day (Hawaii)
20. Jul: Pioneer Day (Utah)
21. Vermont: Bennington Battle Day
22. Alaska: Seward Day
23. Colorado: Cesar Chavez Day
24. Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina: Confederate Memorial Day
25. Various months by state: Arbor Day
26. Feb: Ground Hog Day
27. May: May Day
28. Any month you want: I Just Love You! day (and this makes 50)
And here are some other ideas for a family dinner that would spark amazing conversation (I just made these up...):
Jan: "New Year, New Me" party
Feb: "Love is In the Air" party
May: "Spring Has Sprung!" party
Jun: "School is OUT" party
Aug: "School is Starting!" party
Sep: "We Appreciate Our Teachers" party (and invite your kids' teachers to the dinner)
Oct: "Leaves Are Falling" or "Hooray for Autumn" party
You get the idea...have fun with the opportunity to be together at the table. Let your imagination take over.
It's said that the Kennedy family was noted for its stimulating dinner time conversation--the children were expected to contribute to it and came to dinner prepared to do so. Building meals around special days could be one way to get the habit in place. I think the ability to listen to one another as well as express themselves will be one happy side note of family table talk. But most especially, the bonding and memories that can be made really make this idea one we want to pursue.
What do you think of this idea? And do you have memories you can share about YOUR family table talk? Please share. And until next time, here's to making family dinner hour possible!