I've given a lot of thought to the breakdown of our society and all the problems we face today. And I think I've got a solution. This isn't just some hare-brained notion -- no, there's been a lot of reflection on this. I think if one of the political parties adopted this platform before November, they'd be a shoo-in to win the White House.
It's not a complicated idea. Indeed, the simplicity of it is the basis of its genius. We used to implement the key components of the plan without giving it much thought -- it's that simple.
OK, you may know where I'm going with this. I'm talking about the simple notion of the family dinner hour.
My friends like to tell me they don't cook these days. They say they don't have time. Some say they don't know how to cook. Believe it or not, there are some that say it takes too long or costs too much.
Let's get real about the facts of life, shall we? We all need to eat. In families, the adults are responsible for feeding their children. It's a sacred responsibility in my view. That doesn't mean it has to be hard.
Remember back to the '50s and '60s? Moms cooked dinner. We had a formula: A protein (in those days we called it "meat.") A salad. A hot vegetable. A starch (also called a "potato".) We drank milk. On rare occasions we might have a piece of cake for dessert. Most of the time we got an orange or grapes later in the evening if we wanted something sweet. Look at any old Ed Sullivan rerun and you'll see that nobody had weight problems then.
Start to finish, it took 30 to 45 minutes to cook dinner and put it on the table. Any kid tall enough to reach the sink washed dishes as soon as the meal ended. Then it was time for homework.
Green bean casserole can save the world.
When did we start thinking it was easier -- or "better" -- to bypass the kitchen and do the drive-thru thing? Say it takes 10 minutes to drive to the Golden Arches from your house. Another 10 minutes sitting in line to get to the speaker to order. Another 10 minutes to get to the window to pay and get the food. Another 10 minutes to take it home. Sorry guys, but those fries aren't worth 40 minutes of my time.
Let's talk about how vegetables and casseroles can cure society. First, it requires a family to sit down at the same table, in their own home. This is a sacred place. The sacred responsibility of feeding a family deserves a sacred space, don't you think?
It should provide an intimate place for quiet gathering. Parents can talk to their children. Children can talk to their parents. They can find out what's going on in each other's lives. And it's a sneaky way of making sure they aren't someplace else.
There's a lot to be said for parental supervision. It takes some of the joy out of bad behavior if you know mom's going to call you for dinner in a minute or two.
But it's not all punitive or a matter of monitoring behavior. It is immensely affirming and supportive of these little developing people. What better way to say "I love you. I want the best for you" than to prepare a meal? Can you really get more bang for your buck -- or your time -- than this?
This is your chance to make sure your kids are feeling plugged in to a family. Your kids know that not everyone gets a special meal every day. Why not let your kids be the lucky ones? Make sure they know they have a place where they belong.
Casseroles have amazing curative powers. Church folks know this. That's why the church ladies deliver foil-wrapped care packages to families who are grieving the loss of a loved one, celebrating a birth or recovering from an illness. Nothing invokes a feeling of belonging like a green-bean casserole (the kind with the french-fried onion rings) or a broccoli-cheese casserole (the kind with Ritz crackers crushed on top.)
School is starting right away. You've bought the school supplies, the new clothes, the books, the cell phone ....
Next stop: Grocery store. Tell your kids you love them. Then buy them the produce to prove it.