What has happened to the family dinner of my youth

What happened to the big family dinners that I remember from my childhood? Maybe I have watched the Godfather movies too many times or too many Sopranos episodes where the families would get together for dinner on Saturday or Sunday and I am projecting that onto our family, but I seem to remember getting together a lot at 90 Eggerts Crossing for meals when I was a kid.

I don’t mean holiday meals those we still do, just at different locations in Mercer County. I’m talking about the Sunday morning breakfasts and the meals in the yard during the summer with Rose and Louis, Fran and Angelica, Clora and Dean, Henry and Tim, Bea and Ray, John and Bea and Terry and Willie and me and sometimes other family members and friends. Those are the meals I am talking about, and the birthday celebrations with a huge carrot cake and funny hats.

It seems when Rose and Lou died, things began to change. Family gatherings were fewer and something seemed to be missing when we did get together. It’s understandable that things change. A few of us moved away and we all have families and lives of our own. Sure, today we visit once in a while or meet at wakes or weddings and on holidays. It just seems we are always in a hurry to get through dinner and get back to our lives.

In the old days the adults used to sit around the table and talk back and forth while the kids would go outside or into the other room to play. Now when we get together we are in a hurry to eat and get going. We meet at diners and restaurants too much these days where we are always having to go, so we can’t sit and talk and the food is not as good as if we cooked it ourselves. With the amount of money we spend for our meals we could have better and more food if we were to cook it ourselves.
I get a glimmer of these family dinners I am discussing at La Vigna meetings, when Fran and Corine’s families and Aunt Bea and Aunt Lorriane descend on the beaches of the Jersey Coast or on the days leading up to and after the picnic in the yard at 90 Eggerts Crossing. These glimmers always just make the loss of these dinners felt much more in my mind.

It was these family dinners that gave me the sense of what the family is and taught me to respect and cherish the family as a whole as a child. I feel that my child and my cousins’ children have been cheated out of a wonderful piece of heritage and learning of family.