In my original 12 Days of Fatherhood post, I mentioned that Day 4 should go as follows:

Have dinner together. Bring your children into the process of making the dinner, as much as safely possible, and then eat together at your table (or couch, if you don’t have a table). No TV, no phone, no tablets, no computers – just you, your family, and conversation.

In following my own plan, I asked the kids yesterday what they wanted for dinner.  As I mentioned in another post, the purpose of allowing children to have a stake in decisions is to foster a sense of initiative, which can later develop into a sense of purpose and a better understanding of their individual role in the family.  

So, what did they choose?  A family favorite, creamed eggs.  This recipe is a staple of every holiday breakfast, but also makes for one heck of a gut-warming (and filling) comfort dinner on a cold Northwest winter’s evening.

The recipe is surprisingly simple:

* Hard boil half a dozen eggs, then peel and cut them
* Heat & scald 2 cups of milk
* Add egg chunks
* Mix a slurry of a 1/2 cup of flour & water until smooth & thick, and then begin adding to the egg/milk mixture, stirring, until it reaches the desired texture
* Add salt & pepper to taste
* Serve over toast (usually torn-up pieces of buttered toast in my house)
* Accompany with Li’l Smokies

We took the little ones to the store after getting them off the bus, and allowed them to scavenge the aisles for the necessary ingredients.  When we got back home, we allowed them to come up with a mutually agreeable plan to divvy up the tasks, which meant there were a few arguments, of course, as siblings will do, but for the most part, the longer it went on, the smoother things ran.

Peeling the eggs
 Cutting the eggs and buttering the toast
 Adding the eggs to the mixture and stirring
 Sitting down to enjoy the fruits of our labor
Now, I will be the first person to admit that we do not sit together as a family and eat dinner this way every night.  More often than not, the kids sit at the table while my wife and I watch TV together.  We chow down on our grub, eating out of necessity and practicality, just as many other modern families do.
Tonight, however, was different.  Everyone was involved in the process of bringing family dinner to life.  Everyone had a part to play, meaning that everyone was invested.  This caused us to expand beyond the limits of our typical routines and actually interact through fresh eyes and ears.
In the last picture above, you will see a cylindrical-shaped object between my plate, on the left, and my daughter’s plate, next to it.  This is box of family dinner questions that strike up conversations, such as “What is your biggest fear,” or “What was your favorite toy as a toddler?”  We took turns asking the questions, as well as answering them, laughing to the point of tears with one another.
You want to hear something really cool?  I couldn’t help but notice that, when everyone was done, nobody was in a rush to go their separate ways.  We continued to talk, laugh, and poke fun at one another.  The feel and vibe of family hung thick in the air, which led to further interactions later in the evening, including a little Wii Dance Party and a viewing of another Christmas special before bed.
…and everyone, including the pickiest first-grader in the world, finished their dinners.