My mother was still working then, so we weren't eating elaborate meals. The menu was pretty much the same. Big Sunday dinner: roast beef with potatoes, Yorkshire pud, two veg, and sweet of some sort for dessert. My mother was a haphazard cook. Her desserts always looked sloppy, cake tiers always slightly askew and pie crusts with a very rustic look, but it all tasted delicious. Monday was cold meat, mash, and frozen peas (a reason why I never went home on Monday nights for dinner). Tuesday was pork or lamb chops. Wednesday was often quiche (which I was responsible for making). Thursday was spaghetti night, and Friday was something like shrimp curry because although my mother wasn't Catholic anymore, old habits die hard. When I was a kid we had fish sticks. I love fish sticks. If my mother wasn't working on call, on Saturdays she often made something a little more labor intensive like steak and kidney pie. My sister and I would pick out the kidneys and with a practiced stealth feed them to the various dogs. No, it wasn't a culinary extravaganza that drew me home twice a week. It was the people.
As they say, your mileage may differ. I know many people who found dinner with their parents to be nothing short of an ordeal, but our house was different. Table was where we talked about stuff while we handed round the veg. The political and social upheavals of the day were dissected and pondered over, and everyone's opinion was valid. To a point. History was the silent diner at our table. Yes, history is often written by the victors, and even historians have their own personal biases, but at least if you had a historian backing up your opinions, your argument would be coming from a position of strength rather than ignorance. If your opinion wasn't backed by facts, you weren't ridiculed nor were you told you were stupid. I think the best way to describe it is that you were considered young and slightly misguided. Youth wasn't a curse; you were just young and didn't know a hell of a lot even though you were going to Berkeley. And your opinion was valued nevertheless. You had a voice at that table. You were heard.
I also learned to be a listener. My stepfather grew up in England during the era when you were apprenticed out at fourteen. He went to work with his father at the railroad because that's what fourteen-year-old boys did then. Then he went to war and was captured by the Japanese in Java during World War II, and he spent five years in a Japanese prison camp. Of course, the stories that he told were the stuff of novels and movies, but my mother's stories of growing up in Ireland in the 1930s during the depression were equally interesting and moving.
What I'm saying is talk to each other. Value your table. Share your stories with others. Get off your phone. Boil some spaghetti noodles, use a jar of Newman's own tomato sauce to top your noodles (I'd add a teaspoon more dried basil and oregano and a few pinches of salt), buy a small tub of grated Parmesan cheese, dress some greens, buy some ice cream and chocolate sauce, and spend some money on a decent bottle of red wine. Sit down. Unfurl your napkin. Toast each other. And talk.