Whether it’s a short TV classic like “Frosty the Snowman” or a feature film like “The Polar Express”, many people have a favorite film (or two) that puts them in a holiday mood. And while most of us watch these films for their heartwarming messages and humor, some of us – like the Family Dinner Project Team – are also watching the holiday dinner scenes that include many films. Here are five classic Christmas movie dinner scenes that we think could use our help from experts.
Rudolf, the red-nosed reindeer
More than once in this Christmas classic, Ms. Claus tries to encourage Santa to eat. “Nobody likes a skinny Santa Claus!”, She chides and practically chases Santa Claus with a fork full of food. Santa Claus, on the other hand, is not only not interested in eating – he is almost distracted! He spends his meal times reading weather reports and checking the naughty and nice lists.
Ms. Claus, we know that your intentions are good, but research shows that When pressure is put on others to eat, it usually fails and leads to more picky, less committed eaters. Also, to be honest, we’re not particularly in love with the body shame you throw at Santa here. Experts usually recommend emphasizing healthy habits rather than talking about weight. And Santa, we know you have to go through your lists twice, but getting work to the dining table isn’t the answer! Don’t you have elves who can help you with this?
If you’ve watched the film, you probably think we’ll talk about the dinner scene with maple syrup on spaghetti. But there are actually a few good things in this (very, very strange) family dinner: Emily is working pretty hard to maintain a meaningful conversation, despite some obvious table tensions, and Buddy’s eating habits – including his love of syrup – are fundamentally respected.
We focus on an earlier table scene in which Walter, who is troubled by work, comes to the table late. He fills a plate and tells Emily that he plans to eat in his room because he has a lot of work to do. 10-year-old Michael asks him to bring his food to his room too. “Why not?” He challenges his mother. “Dad eats in his room.” Emily maintains her point of view and leaves Michael at the table to “talk about his day”, but Michael is not interested in the conversation.
Walter, we know things are rough, but avoiding your family and having dinner alone is setting the wrong tone! A little bit of food, fun and entertainment with your wife and son can make a difference Relieve some of your stress. And Emily, we love how hard you try to make family dinners great for everyone in your household, but it’s one of the fastest ways to keep them from talking when you meet your moody preteen with “How was your day?” , A more open conversation starter or even an easy game like “Higglety Pigglety” might have pulled Michael out of his grumpy mood.
a Christmas Story
In this classic holiday, the family sits down with meatloaf and mashed potatoes as the story begins: “My little brother has not eaten voluntarily in over three years …”
From start to finish, the scene is full of missteps at family dinners. Dad reads the newspaper and does not interact with the family at all. Mom stands up and down to serve everyone instead of getting the help they deserve from the rest of the family. There is a lot of pressure and feelings of guilt: “Hungry children would like that.” “I’ll give you something to cry on!” And “Stop playing with your food!”
Mom and Dad, you would probably benefit if you knew that When Randy makes his mashed potato sculptures, the likelihood of willingly trying new things increases. When Mama finally encourages Randy to “eat like a little pig,” it may be effective, but it goes a little too far – a face full of food and the possibility of Randy choking on his mashed potatoes while laughing are both offs. Perhaps next time you could do all the food collages that make Randy help eating and make him eat something more without having to throw his face into the plate.
Ah yes. Dinner at Denny’s in the “Dads who burned the Christmas Turkey” area. We definitely feel sorry for poor single father Scott, who is doing his best to save the Christmas dinner by taking son Charlie to the only family restaurant he can find on short notice. There are few feelings that are worse than disappointing your child on vacation. When Charlie finds out that Denny has run out of eggnog, chocolate milk, and hot apple pie, it’s hard not to sympathize with him and his desperate father.
So where did something go wrong? If you’re facing a seriously depressed child at Christmas, Scott, you’re sure to do your best. However, we recommend having a few conversation starters or table games ready to improve the situation. A round “Would you rather?” Could improve Charlie’s mood, or a game “Name that Tune” with Christmas carols. Pretty much anything you could think of would be better than a half-hearted “well that’s nice” delivered after Charlie sadly placed his order for whole milk.
A Muppet Christmas story
In this version, the Cratchit family – Kermit the frog, Miss Piggy and a lot of little piglet and frog – sit together for Christmas dinner. The goose and ingredients are the “happiest moment of the year” of the Cratchits. So it is an added downer if Mrs. Cratchit spoils her husband’s toast with a tirade against Scrooge.
Miss Piggy, as much as we love your urge to defend your husband (uh, frog), this scene is a kind of Dickensian equivalent of family dinner dinner politics. No matter how legitimate you find your opinion or how much you think others agree, a large dose of negative comments is a quick way to ruin the mood. We have offered some strategies to get out of the fierce discussion of current Thanksgiving events, and they are still just as useful for large holiday events. Maybe the whole Cratchit family could use them the next time you sit down to enjoy your goose!
We are of course just having fun, but these festive dinner scenes are a good reminder that meal times cannot always be perfect even during this festive season. Cooking breakdowns, tense moods, bad conversations and frustrations with picky food won’t just go away because it’s December. But when we are ready to let go of the “perfect” and focus on eating, having fun and entertaining despite the obstacles, all of our meals – vacation and otherwise – have the potential to become unforgettable family meals.
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