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Gemma and Mindi rush to the door, barking like mad. Mackenzie and Michael burst in, late and carrying their vegetables and dessert. Jennifer has just taken her meatloaf and scalloped potatoes from the oven and Milt is at the sink checking out a faulty drain. It’s Sunday in the Peterson/Dawe household and it’s time for their weekly family dinner.
This is not the Sunday dinner of old, when mothers got up early to bake buns and put in the turkey before church, then spent most of the afternoon getting the salads and sides prepared. Instead, this is a purposely casual gathering, focused on easy family favorites like meatballs or lasagne, that leaves time for the cook to visit with the family. The cook itself changes from week to week – today Milt and Jen host, last week Mackenzie and Michael, next week Nana.
The benefits of family dinner have been touted for years – there are physical, mental and emotional advantages. When families have dinner together, they experience a boost in positive moods and a decrease in stress levels. Regular dinner is linked to lowering high risk behaviors in teens such as smoking and eating disorders. It can even lessen depression in the elderly (check out thefamilydinnerproject.org for more information).
So, what did the family have this Sunday? Scalloped potatoes, peas and Nana’s meatloaf. Mackenzie craved Nana’s version because it’s fall-apart moist and tastes like sweet and sour meatballs. Comfort food at its finest!