Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of January 31, 2005
The family that eats together . . .
Large Kennedy clan has made a pact to have supper together every night
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
It's 6:30 p.m. on Monday evening and the family of Veronica and Harold Kennedy is getting ready for supper. It's dark and chilly outside and the two family dogs are begging to be allowed in.
It's warm and cozy in the Kennedys' two-storey, 4,000-square-foot brick house with its five bedrooms, kitchen and recreation room. It sits on 12 acres near Carvel, some 60 km. west of Edmonton.
Harold has already set the table and is now helping put the finishing touches to the meal of the day. They are having scalloped potatoes, ham, Caesar salad and green beans. Meghan, 14, is preparing applejack, a dessert that will be served with ice cream.
Supper is a bit late today because the Kennedys are awaiting their daughter Tashia, 19, and her husband Ryan, who are today's special guests. As soon as the couple arrives with their two small children, the family gathers around the huge solid wood round table perfectly fit for a family of 12, including 10 children ranging in age from four to 24.
While the smaller children take their positions at the table, the older ones help Harold and Veronica serve the meal. Following grace, the family begins to eat.
Supper together as a family is an important ritual at the Kennedy home, one that family life experts say helps to bind a family together. One American bishop even wrote a pastoral letter saying family meal times are a sacramental moment and an important part of family life.
Some of the Kennedy children, however, don't see it as so important.
"I don't think about it; it's just supper," quipped 12-year-old Chelsea.
"If I'd actually thought about it, it would be pretty important but we kind of just don't really notice it anymore because we have been doing it so long," commented Meghan, 17. "But I would miss it if we didn't have it."
A few years ago Veronica decided she wanted everybody to eat together in order to keep the family together. "For a lot of years we home-schooled and we were together all the time but when the kids began to get older (and some of them began attending regular school) it became more and more difficult to sit down as a family," she said.
Now everybody eats together at the dinner table every evening. As a norm, the family waits for everybody to get home before sitting down for dinner.
"It's just a time to relax and unwind, to rejoin together," Veronica says. "If we didn't eat together we would start to break apart as a family. The time spent together would be gone and everybody would be busy doing their own thing."
Veronica grew up in a family that ate together and so the idea came to her more or less naturally. But she found reinforcement in some WCR articles that featured families who had made a pact to eat at least one meal a day together.
"When I read the articles I thought it's something we could do and so I try to make supper a little more special than any of the other meals."
Harold, a home renovator, says he appreciates having the family together for supper. "It's very special."
"Sometimes we just talk and have a lot of fun," said Bethany, 13. "It's very cool."
For Chera, 18, family supper is a special time as well. "Supper brings us closer together. It helps us bond and be closer as a family. If we didn't eat together we wouldn't be as close as we are."
The Kennedys also use suppertime to discuss matters that are important to the family and to swap stories.
But eating is not the only thing the Kennedys do together. They pray together at least once a day, watch movies together, go swimming in Spruce Grove and go to Sunday Mass together either in Spruce Grove or Enoch.
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