Student Experience Blog

Family Dinners

I've heard a lot about the coagulative properties of the Family Dinner: families who sit down and eat dinner and talk about their day together are supposed to be better off than families who eat in front of the TV. I remember posters in middle school touting that "Famlies that Eat Together, Stay Together." 

I have no definitive evidence to present in favor or against this, but I can say that I usually find myself in the caf at dinner with one of two groups which could easily be likened to a family: my teammates, or the people that I live with. I don’t know what it is about sharing a meal that brings people together, but it sure seems to work that way. Or maybe you just want to eat with people close to you. Either way, dinner is a time to spend with people you might not get to otherwise see during the day, or at least a time to spend relaxing and socializing after spending the day studying. It’s a time usually marked with camaraderie: a lot of joking, chatting, and sometimes obscene amounts of eating; it is a time when the only task at hand is to enjoy the food and the company. Sometimes, at the end of a long week, though, everyone at the table just spaces out to whatever’s on ESPN on the TV in the caf.

I’ve never really been one for watching football.

I’m more of the Family Dinner type.

Every once in a while, the channel gets changed, and it can change the whole room. For example, one Sunday, I was in the caf for brunch with some other Cross Country runners, and some guy was on TV, trying to break some kind of record. Once we figured out what he was trying to do, we spent the next three hours sitting in the caf, glued to the TV, picking away at plates of food, seeing nothing much, until the moment we had been anxiously awaiting. We witnessed the Space Jump. My. Mind. Was. Blown.

That was a good day. Just yesterday, I was sitting at dinner, right around 6:30, when the caf is at its busiest. I glanced up at the TV, only to see a face from my childhood, Tom Bergeron, hosting America’s Funniest Videos. I guess everyone else noticed at around the same time, because I felt like I was eating dinner in a live audience. All appropriate reactions were on cue: Everyone laughed at dogs with human hands. Everyone held their breath whenever someone took a hit from a kid on a trike or a golf club. Serious consideration was taken in determining which of the three ways a selected clip could end: Head, Gut, or Groin. It was like everyone was having one big Family Dinner together. Even though nothing on AFV was anything better than probably the makeup of 60% of YouTube, there is something about physical comedy that really brings a room together. I know I left dinner feeling just a little bit more lighthearted than usual.

--Claire Cushing

Claire is a freshman pre-engineering major from Sandy, Oregon.