One thing I could depend on growing up in an Italian neighborhood in Union City was family dinner at 5 p.m., six nights a week. On Sundays we ate at 2 p.m., starting with macaroni followed by roast chicken. God forbid you were late! This is a tradition I have carried on in my family in Roosevelt, much to the chagrin of my sons who would rather be out playing with their friends, just like I was when I was their age.

Family dinner is where we come together to talk about what's going on in our lives, keep track of each other, and maybe even solve problems. We know that no matter what else happens, we are going to spend an hour a day together. With this being Italian-American Heritage month, I'm reminded how important family dinner was back in the day. The love that went into preparing the meal, the comfort and security we all felt at the table. Family dinner was a big part of the Italian community trying to assimilate into America.

That assimilation has taken its toll on family dinner, now that family members live so far away from each other and I know that someday that's going to happen when my sons go off on their own. That's why it's so important to me to have that hour to spend with them now while they're young. We start off with a prayer, then talk things out with good food and drink and they feel part of a connection every single day. We talk about all kinds of things and my sons know that they can come to us with anything.

There are 9 scientifically proven reasons to eat dinner as a family, I think the most important of all is the time we spend together. Time is the one thing we all wish we had more of, and of all the things I do with my time everyday, this is the most important because whether or not my sons know it, this is the time that will mold the rest of their lives. I can't tell you how much of what we talked about growing up at family dinner I carry with me today.

Oh and the food, the food is also most important, especially when it's red gravy with meatballs, sausage and braciole! Mangia!!!

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