There are a lot of books, websites, and experts we can consult regarding the types of food we should consume for optimal health. What is less common are words about regular, everyday meals. Certainly, there are countless pages regarding holiday meals, birthday meals, anniversary meals, even funeral meals. What I’m thinking about are the times we sit down together or alone during most of the year to eat our meals.
Thankfully, many families still eat at least one meal together each day, with places set with real plates, tumblers, cups, and flatware. Usually that meal is dinner, sometimes it’s breakfast, less common is having lunch together around noontime. In my opinion, it’s very good for families or friends to eat together. Setting a place for mealtime is also very good if one is single and eats alone each day.
This subject of meals came up this Saturday during coffee with my next door neighbor Austin. He said that he missed eating regular meals with his parents and siblings at their small ranch in Western Nebraska. Most of the time the entire family ate the three main meals together. He smiled when he remembered that his parents called the noon meal dinner and the evening meal supper. I replied that both sets of my grandparents used the same words for those meals.
Austin mentioned that sometimes he still calls the evening meal supper because it was ingrained during his childhood and early adulthood. His girlfriend sometimes playfully ribs him about suppertime. Her family has always called that meal dinner.
My mom and dad alternated the evening meal names. They usually said it was supper, but on weekends and holidays they called it dinner. They both reverted to calling the noon meal dinner on Thanksgiving and Christmas because those were special meals. It seemed inappropriate to say we ate Thanksgiving luncheons. Dad stopped saying supper after mom passed away and he remarried. His second wife, Tippy, always called that meal dinner.
Austin and I both remember getting in the habit of calling the noontime meal lunch, not dinner. This happened because that’s what it’s called in school. We both remember having the option of eating lunch in the cafeteria or going home for lunch when we attended grade school. Austin always had lunch at school because his family lived three miles away from town.
Meantime, Merle Beatty elementary school in Lincoln, Nebraska took a daily tally about who would be eating lunch in the school cafeteria and who would be walking home for lunch. Because I lived only a few blocks away from school, most days I ate lunch with mom and my siblings. If the weather was rainy or very cold, I had lunch in the school cafeteria.
Regarding breakfast, Austin said his family always ate the morning meal together. His dad and all the kids did the early ranch chores first thing in the morning, then all of them came in the house where his mom had breakfast ready to eat.
The only times my family ate breakfast together was weekends when dad did not have a highway construction project to supervise. Otherwise, mom usually had her breakfast early with dad or, if he left for work very early, she had breakfast with us kids. We kids never had breakfast solo.
Austin said he’s glad that he usually eats at least one meal each day with his girlfriend because he hates to eat alone. When Austin has solo meals, he usually eats them while watching teevee or surfing the Web.
My default meals are consumed solo. I often have a very light breakfast while writing bluejayblog. Sometimes I skip dinner because of nighttime digestive problems. However, I always set the table for lunch. I usually use cheerful Fiesta Ware or Corelle plates and bowls, flatware I inherited from my step-mom, also a funky thrift store tumbler. I don’t watch or listen to any media during lunch. I just enjoy the meal.
Sometimes I invite a friend to my house for lunch or we eat a meal together at a restaurant. Then, camaraderie is the main course.