Back In my Day

May I be excused?

So my first rant on this site will have to do with table manners. All of my family descends from Eastern European roots, and I don’t know if everyone from that part of the world (we called them ‘DP’s when I was a kid in Cleveland) did this, but when dinner was ready (and it was almost always ready at the same time every night.) The entire family came to the dining room table, with the TV off, and shared the meal.

My Mother was a fantastic cook, I think nearly everyone says that, because it’s always your Mothers cooking you eat the most of, so everything else is compared to that, but my Mother could cook something up using leftovers, and whatever else we had in the fridge and it always tasted great. Looking back, the only thing they ever cooked that I didn’t like was Liver, and in those days, you didn’t get a special side-meal created for you if you didn’t like what everyone else in the family was eating. You ate what your Mother cooked, or you went hungry. I learned that covering Liver in a think layer of ketchup masked the taste enough for me to eat it. To this day, I will not eat Liver.

At the end of the meal, after you ate everything on your plate, you would ask ‘May I be excused?‘ and my Father would typically be the one to answer and give permission get up, take our plate and utensils to the kitchen, and run some water on them so it’d be easier for my Mother to actually clean the dishes after she finished eating. There were no Electric Dishwasher in our family, Mom was the Dishwasher.

May I be excused?‘ something so simple, but something, I’d bet, never gets asked these days. Why not? Well, I’d guess mostly because not many families aren’t having dinner together anymore. According to a recent survey, less that 30% of American families have dinner together every night of the week, and even more alarming, The time spent at the dinner table averages less than 12 minutes nowadays, where it used to average 90 minutes. I’m sorry, but nobody is that busy, and if you are that busy, you need to re-prioritize.

This isn’t something families can blame on their kids. This is something that Parents need to instill from a very early age, and then not compromise later. Dinnertime may be the one time of the day that the entire family can be together, and that togetherness absolutely builds the foundation for families to remain close. Turn off the TV, mute all the phones, and get all of the kids to the dinner table, share a meal, talk to each other, and repeat daily.

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