Students in Stephanie Natale-Boianelli’s Composition I classes this fall read essays from the This I Believe project (www.thisibelieve.org) and examined what they revealed about effective writing. Students then wrote their own This I Believe essays. Atlantic Cape CommuniCator will share some of the best essays. This issue’s essay comes from Marcella Graves, a nursing major and mother of five:
I Believe in Family Meals
When I was a child, dinner was served every night at 6:00 p.m. Everyone had to be home for dinner, or they’d pay the consequences (usually it was doing the dishes for a week). My sister and I would take turns setting the table. As soon as Mom was done cooking, she would dish out the food. At the same time our dad would walk in from work. We would be ecstatic that dad was home. If we were bickering at that time, it would be forgotten. We’d sit and say Grace. Our parents would talk about work and what things the house needed. My sister and I would talk about school and activities. When dinner was over, we’d take turns with clean up and dishes. Overall this was our family time.
I believe family meals gave our family the sense of belonging. Most of my friends didn’t have a dinner time; sometimes they had no dinner at all. Knowing I had to be home by 6:00 p.m. to eat with my family, I then knew I belonged to a family that loved each other.
I believe family meals made us appreciate life. Whenever we were out busy with life and our bellies were growling and saying “Feed Me,” and the family came home to a dinner already made for us, each of us appreciated that someone took care of our needs. That’s when the family put things into perspective and realized what we all appreciate in life.
I believe family meals make the family responsible. We have the responsibility to be on time. It’s just like a restaurant reservation. If you’re not on time the restaurant would cancel your reservations. At home you’d have to do the dishes for a week.
I believe that family meals make the family feel secure. Knowing that my family gets together every night for dinner and to listen and encourage one another gives us security. It let us know that we will always be there for one another. Families that eat together stick together.
Family meals is something I believe in. It has given structure to our family. I now have my own children; we have dinner together every night. I have created the same secure structure for my very own family. We sit down to eat, we talk about everything. They know they belong to a loving and caring family, and they know they have a responsibility to one another. They all appreciate that on my busiest day I make the time to cook for our family. We appreciate the efforts of each other to be at the dinner table together. We believe in family meals.
I’ve explained to my family that not everyone has what we have. Not everyone has someone to eat with or share a story with. Some people are homeless, or they have no families. As a family, we have decided to help others that are unfortunate. On Thanksgiving, we dedicate our time to those who are less fortunate than ourselves because we wanted to give them the same sense of belonging and security. As a family we go to the Community Outreach program in Camden, N.J. We help organize the event by making grocery bags for those who will cook at home. We also set the gym up as a dining area with decorations and table setting for four hundred guests. Everyone helps in the kitchen cooking and cleaning all the dishes. We wanted to give them a day they could remember by eating good food, having nice conversations, and appreciating the time together. We all try to make this a feeling of family time.