Growing up we ate dinner as a family, almost without fail, every weeknight at 5:30 p.m. sharp. My kids were raised the same way, unless there was a hockey practice that went late, we all ate together around six o'clock. It was routine, like getting up for school or brushing your teeth. We just thought everybody did that.

It wasn't until one of my sons had a high school friend over for dinner on a weeknight and he was very grateful that we went out of our way to make him a special dinner. We didn't. We just set an extra place at the table. He asked in disbelief "you guys do this every night?" Uh, yeah, doesn't everybody?  It turns out that only about 30% of families eat dinner together regularly.

There has been a lot of discussion about family dinner and what effects it has on society and the family itself. I think it's an important part of family life and that family life is an important part of a healthy human existence. Some families try to at least have a Sunday meal together when there are no practices or lessons or other after-school distractions.

The Sunday meal was always a big deal for us growing up. We ate dinner early, usually by 3 o'clock. It was probably a holdover from my grandparent's immigrant upbringing in southern Italy, where the main meal is always served mid-day. When they moved here, they had to work until 5 p.m., so during the week, they ate like Americans. On Sunday, it was back to the old traditional time of the 2 o'clock Sunday dinner.

Up until just a couple of years ago when my parents got too old to host a big family meal, all four of us and our kids were EXPECTED to be at their house AT LEAST once a month for Sunday dinner. The world is different now. Schedules are varied, peoples' faces are buried in their phones, but if you can make an effort to put the phone down for an hour and put a meal together for everyone in the family once a week....well, it would be nice.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Dennis Malloy. Any opinions expressed are Dennis Malloy's own.

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