April 27, 2023


It would be next to impossible to overestimate all the benefits to family dinner.


In the opening scene of Fiddler on the Roof the camera glides along silhouettes of rooftops with the sun peeking its head above the distant horizon. The faint sound of a fiddle whispering a beautiful song folds back the blanket of silence. As the music crescendos, the camera settles on the fiddler precariously seated on the apex of a roof.

The camera slowly pans down the wall to Tevye, the village milkman, loading his cart. Tevye begins a monologue about how a fiddler on the roof sounds crazy, but he says that all the people of the village are like a fiddler on the roof trying to "scratch out a pleasant, simple tune without breaking his neck." He continues, "...and how do we keep our balance? That I can tell you in one word...TRADITION!" Throughout the rest of the movie, the fiddler appears symbolizing the tradition that is so vital to Tevye.

Traditions, or rituals, if you will, are vital to a child's development and sense of security. Traditions are proven to release oxytocin in the brain. Oxytocin serve many purposes. It inhibits the amygdala, the fight or flight part of the brain. It also is a bonding agent that helps us feel connected to others. One of my favorite family traditions is family dinner. Sharing our family dinner with close friends is also special. I am so grateful for friends who are family.

It would be next to impossible to overestimate all the benefits to family dinner. It is a screen-free zone. No TV and no phones. It is a time to connect with each other and encourage each other. And no family dinner is complete until we laugh until we cry. What do we do if laughter is lacking? That's why God created "Dad Jokes". Family dinner should be fun. Come to the dinner table with some conversation starters in mind. Be intentional about connecting and laughing.

One of the rituals we enjoy are birthday dinners. Each member of the family takes turns affirming the birthday person and tells them how special they are and how much they are loved. Some of our best family dinners have included both laughter and tears.

What traditions have you enjoyed with your family? What traditions might you establish to create those precious memories that echo a lifetime? Just give it a shot. Dont worry about it being perfect. Life is not perfect. That's what makes it an adventure.

Mark McKinney

Author, Writer and Speaker

Mark has spent his entire adult life in service to others. He has served as a pastor, educator, motivational speaker and author. He has three daughters, one wife (Robbin) and eight grand children.

About Mark

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