Are Family Dinners Over-Rated?

Are family dinners over-rated? The question is kind of like asking whether taking the time to add a link in a chain of memories is over-rated. The exchange of stories, the unexpected laughter, the griping about some teacher or fellow student - all footprints etched on the sands of my heart. (Sand that's slipping through my fingers because I know there are only so many dinners left before college comes calling and my baby girl succumbs. She is my baby girl - all of 18 years of being my sweetheart. How did she come to be all mine?)

Today,  unbidden, my Taskeen set the table for dinner. Forks, knives, glassware included. It made me want to buy new table mats -  beautiful, expensive, gorgeous table mats edging our family to gather together for dinner, making it the norm. Rushed meals, standing in the kitchen and eating. This is our norm. Staggered meal times - each when they are hungry, this is our norm. Dinners in front of a TV set that quells any discussion, night after night. This is our norm. These habits, as regular as the beating of our hearts, are our little clicks on "unlink". In their wake, I can hear the unhinging of chains, fledgling memories carelessly aborted. I am supposed to write an article on the value of one-on-one face time on mental health. When even close-knit families like ours consistently leave moments for face-time with each other untouched, is writing any article on its value, worth the words of advice that will flow across my page?

And yet, just as clear as the air that sustains my days, I know it is the sharing of memories and the making of new ones that is the glue that joins hearts. It is the impetus behind what I would like to call a "cheesy-jokes only" WhatApp group that my friends from 9th grade and I are part of. There really is no reason for that group other than those memories created more than 20 years ago. Memories, and emotions, still powerful enough to oil the wheels our hearts today.

If we aren't connecting, if our fingers aren't holding onto each other's joys, tears and fears, if my dreams aren't inter-laced with yours, are we really living at all?

Are family dinners over-rated? I guess yes if the experience of being immersed in love, as a mother, daughter, friend, neighbor, lover too is over-rated.