The good china is dishwasher safe


Last Spring when Ellen Futterman contacted me about A Year Or More of Shabbats — our 2010 Shabbat project — she asked what was the most surprising thing that happened at our Friday night dinners. My answer? How healing it has been for our family.

But frankly, if you would have told me a year ago that I would be entertaining in my home every Friday and then writing about it online, I would have told you you were out of your bloody mind. (Expletives deleted). I’ll spare you the details of my vision, but trust me, it had more to do with bolting the door than setting the table.


Which got me to thinking.

Maybe there was something to this weekly family dinner. Something bigger than our family. It was such a simple, universal concept. Yet so profoundly impactful. At least for us.

So I did a bit of research. Turned out I was right.

As far as I can tell, family dinners (at least according to the research) are practically saving the world. Wanna stop your kid from smoking, drinking and abusing drugs? Serve up a brisket. Improve reading and test scores and even build larger vocabularies? Bring on the beef. One study even credits dinner at home with a feeling of greater personal success and success in relationships — not only with your children, but your spouse.

Still skeptical?

I don’t blame you.

I’m a little suspicious too. Plus, with my kids at only three and six, I’m going to need a good ten years to find out if the research is actually right.

So I’m giving you a few more practical reasons … that won’t require you to wait until your kids are 15 to confirm.

Here’s what’s happening at our house.

1. Entertaining every week has motivated me to do things like clean that dried up spaghetti sauce off the couch.

2. Entertaining every week has also made me realize that no one really cares (or notices) the sauce. And now I care less too.

3. I learned (and confirmed) that the peels of eight potatoes cannot be digested by my garbage disposal.

4. Steve learned (and confirmed) that he can dismantle the kitchen sink, clear a clog, and reassemble pipes. (It only leaks a little).

5. I unpacked and fired up my Cuisinart food processor, Kitchen Aide standing mixer and thirty dollar digital oven thermometer. All for one meal.

6. I started using the good china. And putting it in the dishwasher. Without ruining it.

7. Ben now assumes that he gets to have a friend at dinner every Friday night. Here’s to hoping he feels that same way when he’s 15.

8. I have recorded months of family memories for my kids. Which is good since I’ve barely snapped a photo since Halloween 2008.

9. We always have good left overs on Saturday.

10. I have made new friends and reconnected with old friends including my best friend — my husband.

But mostly we have learned that there is a special place in our home for Judaism, spirituality and gratefulness, especially on Shabbat.

Still skeptical?