We’re delighted to share the family dinner wisdom of Sana Aaser and her family, who have overcome significant obstacles in a creative and meaningful way!
Sana Aaser, her husband, father-in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, 2-year-old nephew and infant niece. The whole extended family lives in Maple Grove, Minnesota.
When Sana’s mother-in-law was diagnosed with cancer, the whole family lived together in order to help share in caretaking duties and remain close with each other during a difficult time for all. Now Sana and her husband have moved to their own home, but worry that his father will feel torn between the two households, and miss the support and extra sets of hands that were always available when the families shared a home.
Fortunately for the Aasers, the two households are only 10 minutes apart, so Sana and her sister-in-law have devised a shared family dinner strategy that helps them all maintain their closeness. The two women share the cooking responsibilities and gather the whole family for dinner almost every night at one home or the other, a unique arrangement that Sana reflects has more than one advantage.
“Making it an efficient process with shared responsibility is important, especially on busy weeknights,” she says, adding that the group approach to dinner also helps the whole family work together on their shared goal of reducing their intake of meat and starches. But the Aaser family’s communal dinners also have a deeper significance.
“I think establishing the importance of family dinner and seeing it as a tradition that builds the culture of the family is crucial. We realized how central this was for our family when we lived as a joint family during my mother-in-law’s battle with cancer. Each evening was a celebration of togetherness and gratitude for our blessings, and this is something we continue to carry with us.”
“We love food!” Sana says. “I think the delight is in the diversity of the meals we share at family dinner.” Favorites include lasagna, steaks, and South Asian biryani, but the Aasers are always looking for new healthy recipes to try.
“Understanding the value of family dinner through TFDP was both encouraging and affirming.” Sana says that she and her husband are preparing for parenthood, and hope to incorporate the tips for engaging kids in family dinner as their family continues to grow.
The Best Part:
Gathering the two households each night has created a joyful family dinner experience for the Aasers. Sana says she especially loves experiencing the excitement of her niece and nephew when they see each other each day. But for all the adults in the family, “it’s wonderful to have immediate counsel as things come up in life, and (because of family dinners) there is a designated time for such conversations already built into our routine.”
Tags: adults, cancer, community, couples, grandparents, grief, real family dinner projects, ritual