What’s for dinner?

By Don Hill

Since my last column was all about the kitchen and Mary’s cooking, I thought we should investigate how we eat.

Back when we both worked and raising two kids, life was go, go, go like many of yours. Little time to do a lot of planning meals. Eating out was very rare even on teaching salaries. However, we did hold to one old-time tradition. We all sat down at the dinner table and the TV was turned off. We still do it today.

How many families all sit down at the dining table for dinner? Oh, put your hand down back there in the back row. Seems formal dining (or is it supper?) has gone to the wayside along with the dining room itself. And when do you eat? Of course, it all depends on the period of your life and your lifestyle as well as the area of the country you are from.

Seems formal dining in some areas is when the guy takes his hat off. And the old idea of dressing for dinner is when he keeps his shirt on. And the dining room … well, now it’s the den or at least somewhere in front of the boob tube. And the fine china and crystal that every new bride just had to have is now paper plates and plastic cups. Yes, casual is the “in” thing.

When do you eat? When I was growing up, it was 4 p.m., not one minute before or one minute after. It was coal miners’ supper. As soon as Dad got home from the mine, he sat down to eat. He had showered and cleaned up at the mine before he left. Mom always had the supper on the table.

As soon as we finished, it was farming time. Milk the cows, plow the fields, plant the corn, cut up a few chickens, hoe the garden, etc. This went on until dark. You thought I had an easy life, didn’t you?

Our farmer friends from Minnesota have their main meal at noon and then have the rest of the day to finish what they had started at 5 in the morning. Thought I would throw that in just in case you ever thought about taking up farming.

Families these days are too busy to sit down together. The little housewife has just put in a full day at the office and hasn’t had time to plan a meal. Dad has been off to work since 5 this morning. The kids are playing ball, band practice or working at their part-time job. The only ones who have been home all day are the dog and cat, and they are hungry.

It usually comes down to the fast-food joints, pizza delivery or seeing what that is in the refrigerator that is wrapped up in foil. Everyone grabs whatever and heads off to their sanctuary. So much for family togetherness.

Then comes the “empty nesters” time when the kids are off on their own (if you are lucky) and there is more time for yourselves. Mealtime probably changes. You can eat whenever you please, and you find more food in the refrigerator.

And ah yes, us old retirees. Some are restricted on what they can eat. Some have only themselves to cook for. Some are having seven-course meals, and some are eating a bologna sandwich out of the golf bag while waiting for the beer cart.

No matter what you eat, where you eat or when you eat, always be thankful for having something to eat.

Don Hill is a resident of Seymour and has served as a volunteer at Southern Indiana Center for the Arts for more than a quarter of a century. Send comments to [email protected].