When I was growing up, my dad was a naval aviator and was away a lot. Even when he was home, his schedule was variable—similar to what we as surgeons have become familiar with. While many of my friends’ families had dinner together, either at 6 p.m. sharp every night, or just ate individually when convenient, my mom prioritized our eating together no matter the time. This meant that we sometimes ate early, sometimes late, and many meals had to wait a bit before being served.
Explore This IssueAugust 2023
We also lived in Japan for four years when I was growing up, and so we missed having Thanksgiving with my grandparents. One July while visiting them in Florida, my grandmother made a Thanksgiving dinner for our entire family so that we wouldn’t miss out on holiday traditions.
I’m so grateful for that time together, and I’ve tried to do the same for my family. It isn’t always easy between work, sports practices, and schoolwork, but we do our best to prioritize time together. My kids, who are now all between middle school and college, frequently tease me about my insistence on dinner together, but despite the teasing, they still come and share their day and discuss world events of interest.
This has been particularly important as our oldest went off to college last year and another will go next year. Having everyone home for a few weeks this summer has affirmed for me the importance of taking a bit of time to sit down together and share food and conversation.
Several years ago, I started having facial plastic fellows and residents come to dinner with their significant others. These meals have become some of my favorite of the year. It’s an opportunity to give thanks to the individuals who support us and to build stronger bonds amongst members of our community.
When I was junior faculty, attending national meetings provided a time to get to know members of our community, many of whom have become some of my closest friends. I have wonderful memories of leaving the meeting for the day without dinner plans and someone saying, “Robin, would you like to join us for dinner?” Many years ago, a good friend proactively made reservations for 10 every night of the meeting at some of her favorite restaurants. She and I were only a few years out of fellowship at the time but were able to bring together amazing combinations of people every night for great food and conversation.