what makes a family

what makes a family …

* a non-fictional story

There wasn’t a whole lot of consistency in my life when I was growing up. As a matter of fact my world was constantly in some sort of turmoil. But there was one consistent thing that happened while I was growing up and that was pizza night. I am not sure how often we made pizza, but my memory leaves me believing that it was fairly regular. I chuckle when I think of how much excitement oozed out of that ‘how to make pizza’ box … the powdered parmesan and dried spices were what made the pizza a work of art! Especially according to my father.

As we grated the cheese and rolled out the dough, love flowed through the kitchen of our rented bungalow. Our cookie sheet pizza’s brought us together in a very real way. We could talk about the task at hand and sprinkle in a little life lesson here and there. Or even an impromptu self-defense session lead by my brother and father!
These family moments are what define a family.
In the ‘Journal of Adolescent Health’ there was a study conducted about Family Dinner Frequency and Adolescent Development. The goal of the study was to examine the associations of the family dinner and high-risk behaviours in teenagers. The results were what you imagined. Yes, the family dinner plays a significant and positive role in adolescent life. More specifically, it found that family dinner frequency may actually curtail high-risk behaviour among adults. The most profound finding however is this; ‘Perhaps a better description of how family meal frequency is related to adolescent development is that it represents family togetherness’. It is this togetherness that leaves you feeling like you belong to something special; your family.
I know that with my dad at work full time and my big my brother away at school I was left to care for my sister and grandmother. So you could say that my kitchen and meal duties were an assumed. Sure, it was an expectation that I cook, but it was something I never resented. It was my lifeline and connection to my family throughout my challenging and troubled teenage years. This connectedness in the kitchen undoubtedly played a significant role in my life. I needed a calm and safe place to love and be loved and I often found that in the kitchen. This time in the kitchen also gave me one on one moments with family members that I will treasure. And finally, cooking for my family was my way to care for them. I was baking cakes and microwaving meatloaf when I was twelve years old. (Please don’t judge me, microwaving was an art form in the 80’s!)
Now that I am all grown up and have a family of my own, I have declared Friday night pizza night. Double zero flour, multiple toppings and fresh herbs start the weekend right. Sorry dad, no more how to pizza box.