The apex of family dinner is Thanksgiving

manners, table manners, etiquette, family dinner, conversation skills and consideration all com to a head on Thanksgiving where children show what they have learned all year round. parents can work on manners every day. Family dinner is an excellent venue to teach and model manners on a daily basis. Family dinner is the anti-drug. Regular family dinner correlates to lower rates of drug, alcohol and tobacco use among tweens and teens. Family dinner is worth the time and effort.

Dramatic storytelling is a big part of family dinner, as is laughter.

Family dinner is a sacred tradition in our house. My husband and I both grew up with it and we sustained it through years of soccer practices, concerts, teen work schedules and their objections.Stuck to this mantra: “You will be home for family dinner.”

On Friday nights we often made homemade pizza and watched a G or PG movie together. I can still see my son Ian when he was in high school, arguing with me in the kitchen.

“Do I have to be here for family dinner?”

The answer was unequivocably, “Yes. You must” with no room for negotiation in my body language.

Do you know how Ian celebrated his 26th birthday last month? By preparing 12 homemade pizzas for his friends.

Dozens of studies have correlated the value of family dinner to keep kids connected to parents and family, to reduce the rate of drug/alcohol/cigarette use by tween and teens, and to reinforce family values. My children learned to make pleasant conversation, use pleasant table manners and be part of a group at family dinners.

The worst trouble one of my teens ever got in was at 5:30 pm on a Friday night, when that teen should have been home with us having family dinner. It was a painful price to pay to be reminded of the value of family dinner. Not only does it cut in half the time they can stray between school dismissal and midnight, family dinner anchors them.

Family dinner is worth the time and investment — especially this time of year when our children are “on display” at family and community gatherings. They will demonstrate the cumulative what we have taught them at home every day. 

We had the tradition of saying this non-denominational grace to start our meal. No ne could eat before saying grace. I was reminded of it when my son’s former girlfriend sent me a message on Facebook.

Hi Susan! I was thinking about you guys with Thanksgiving coming up. Your family’s grace was always my favorite, would you mind sending me the blessing?

Here it is Kendra. We hold hands and say the following.

Thank you God/Goddess/Great Spirit/Earth
For the food on our table, the roof over our head and love in our family.
Help us make peace on Earth and at home.
Amen. E tadaki mas. Bismillah. L’Chaim. Namaste.

The end of the prayer is almost as long as the body thanks to spontaneous additions from friends over the years.

“E tadaki mas” – Japanese  for“Let us receive this food” came from Tomoko and Noriyuki, summer visitors through the 4-H summer exchange.

“Bismillah” – Arabic – “In the name of God” is from Zoe of Senegal in the Muslim tradition.

“L’Chaim” – Hebrew, used as a toast — “To life!” Our friend Barry blurted it out spontaneously after sharing in the prayer. I love the guttural feeling of “l’cha” in the back of my throat. It’s fun to say.

“Namaste” — Hindu — “I bow to the divine in you” came from Lezli. She and her son Dontanno lived with us for three months. It ends the prayer in a solemn peaceful note and sums up everyone else’s contributions.

I wish everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving.

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2 Comments on “The apex of family dinner is Thanksgiving”


  1. This is really great! I will also pass the prayer along at our thanksgiving meal. It’s wonderful and lovely. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours and thank you for sharing something so personal and so universally inspiring.
    Bonnie

  2. raisingable Says:

    You can add your own addendum, too.


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