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10 Things You Don’t See At The Dinner Table Any More

Think back to what your life was like growing up; where did most of your memories occur? For many of us, several of the best memories took place at the dinner table. Family dinner was a place where you could come together with your parents and siblings and unwind from the day. Sharing laughs over mom’s delicious home-cooked meals, listening to dad’s cheesy jokes, and just being together as a family without distractions was something many of us cherished. Unfortunately, many of the traditions of family dinner that we grew up with don’t happen very often these days (if they happen at all).

We decided to look back at some of our most vivid memories of family dinner and come up with a list of things you just don’t see very much any more. If you grew up in the ’50s, ’60s or ’70s, chances are this will bring back a lot of memories! Some of you might still carry on a few of these happier traditions. And while we miss some of these ideas more than others, it’s always fun to reminisce on how things were, and to notice how much things have changed.

1. Setting The Dinner Table Before Each Meal

As kids, many of us had a chore list that included several household duties, one of which was setting the table each night! It was always fun to feel included in helping prepare dinner. Many of you probably still do this for special occasions, but we used to do it for every meal.

Via Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division

Via Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division


2. Placemats At Every Setting

Of course, setting the table wasn’t just about putting out the proper silverware, plates, and glasses. Each member of the family had their own placemat, and there was always a clean tablecloth covering the table. Often times these placemats were handmade by mom, and were beautiful, lace doilies or fun crocheted patterns.

Via Wiki Commons

Via Wiki Commons

3. Dressing Up For Dinner

While we would save our most fancy duds for Sunday dinners or special occasions, mom always made sure we were washed up and wearing a clean shirt before we came to the dinner table. We hated it at the time, but looking back, it was probably not very hygienic to wear the clothes we had been in all day while we were climbing trees and playing in the grass!

via Library of Congress / Harris & Ewing

via Library of Congress / Harris & Ewing

4. Sunday Dinner

Sunday dinners were the best meals of the week. Usually, mom spent a lot of time fixing up something special (my personal favorite was her pork chops). The family was home all day, and before we ate we would go upstairs and put on our Sunday best. Sometimes, extended family would come over, and it was just great to have such a semi-formal gathering each week.

Via/ Flickr

Via/ Flickr

We hope you haven’t filled up yet, we’ve got more great dinner memories!

5. Proper Table Manners

Using proper dinner etiquette was a requirement in my house, especially if we had company. A few things I still do this day include putting the napkin in my lap, saying excuse me if I had to leave the table, never reaching across someone for a dish, and of course, chewing with my mouth closed. It seems that table manners are not nearly as much of a priority these days as they were when we were growing up. (No elbows on the table, young man!)

via Library of Congress

via Library of Congress

6. Eating Dinner Together At The Table As A Family

via U.S. National Archives and Records Administration / Russell Lee

via U.S. National Archives and Records Administration / Russell Lee

The thing we probably miss the most about what dinner used to be like is the quality family time we spent at the table. We rarely ate in front of the TV, unless it was a special occasion. There were no cell phones to distract anyone, and you were “forced” to actually make conversation and discuss your day (shocking, right?!). This family time was some of the most cherished moments of my childhood, and it’s something we still try to enforce now that we’re older.

Time for the main course!

7. Cooking Everything With Lard

Maybe it’s the nostalgia, but if you ask us, nothing tasted better than mom’s cooking. Perhaps a reason for this was the liberal use of lard. In today’s health-conscious world, you just don’t see the use of lard as much as you used to. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, but we grew up eating it and things seemed to taste just a little better back then!

via Wiki Commons

via Wiki Commons

8. Bread With Every Meal

Speaking of health-conscious, eating bread with every meal was the norm growing up. Again, this is something that hasn’t disappeared all together, but you just don’t see it as much. Usually we had a nice serving of vegetables to go along with our meal, but that piece of bread was great for soaking up any excess gravy or sauce that might’ve escaped the main course!

via U.S. Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information

via U.S. Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information

Now for dessert!

9. Finishing What Was On Your Plate

Being a picky eater was not a choice when we were kids, especially if your parents grew up during the Great Depression. You may remember how the menu consisted of two choices: take it or leave it. Of course, scarfing down your Brussels sprouts was a lot better than going to bed hungry.

Eat What you have

10. After Dinner Cigarette

Now this may only pertain to a few of you, but we definitely remember a few times when dad would light up an after-dinner cigarette. Usually this was only on special occasions, but you have to remember how different the thinking on cigarettes was back then. Of course, we know smoking cigarettes is harmful to your health, so it’s for the best that this has faded away with time.

After dinner cigarette

This concludes our list of things you just don’t see at the dinner table anymore. We hope you enjoyed this stroll down memory lane!

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