It’s the time of year when families across the country sit down to share a family meal and celebrate the holiday season. Every family has their own holiday mealtime traditions, whether it is a signature Thanksgiving turkey dish, customary Chanukah latkes or traditional Christmas cookies. A new survey by Kelton Research on behalf of The J.M. Smucker Company reveals how Americans’ are approaching family mealtime this holiday season by exploring existing family traditions, how new ones are being adopted, which ones are kept, and which ones are slipping away.

According to the survey, nearly seven in 10 (68%) Americans will have at least three generations sitting at the holiday table. While gathered around the bustling dinner table passing around the gravy boat and turkey, the coffee and pie, 74% of Americans are most likely to reminisce about family stories.

Many of the family holiday traditions take place in the kitchen and around the dinner table and are at the heart of the holiday meal. For generations, home chefs everywhere have trusted brands like Smucker’s, Jif, Crisco, Pillsbury and Hungry Jack to help prepare and preserve favorite family recipes and create new dishes destined to become traditions. This year The J.M. Smucker Company invites you to begin a new tradition around the dinner table by visiting www.poweroffamilymeals.com for family mealtime tradition ideas and conversation starters.

Visitors to the site can download easy step-by-step recipe videos and learn how to make classic mealtime recipes. The Web site also offers visitors a variety of delicious recipes for the holiday mealtime – such as Smucker’s Classic Thumbprint Cookies – and family mealtime recipes that can be served throughout the holidays and beyond. To get you started, try a few of these classic recipes: Port Tenderloin with Cherry Compote, Herbed Green Bean Casserole, Creamy Parmesan Potatoes and Peanut Butter-n-Jam Cheesecake.

“Research shows that the majority of Americans plan to continue the tradition of a large family meal during the holidays, but only a quarter of Americans actually know how to make all of their family’s traditional dishes,” said Maribeth Badertscher, director, corporate communications, The J.M. Smucker Company.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, family traditions are important to young Americans. Nearly three out of four (73%) Americans aged 18-44 say that as they get older, holiday meals become more important to them, compared to less than half (49%) of those 45 and older. However, being important doesn’t make them easy to maintain; nearly seven in 10 (68%) of all Americans say that it’s getting harder and harder to reinforce family mealtime traditions.

Author Miriam Weinstein and the importance of family mealtime

The J.M. Smucker Company has teamed up with Miriam Weinstein, author of “The Surprising Power of Family Meals,” to offer guidance on how to use the holiday season as a springboard to gathering the family around the table throughout the year. Weinstein has developed recommendations to get the most out of holiday get-togethers, preserve family traditions and help growing families create their own traditions.

Honor your shared past while connecting in the present: As families grow and new members join through births or marriages be sure that you share your families legacies. Also, be receptive to making room for new traditions that the new family members may bring to the table.

Be realistic about your expectations: Instead of worrying about the meal going perfectly, focus on the smaller accomplishments like getting everyone to the table or making sure everyone has had a laugh.

Express your appreciation to others: This is great for kids, let them help clear between courses or ask them to bring something from the kitchen that you “forgot.” Then, after they finish their job, thank them and let them know what a tremendous help they have been.

Many Americans are on the right track by involving kids in the family holiday mealtime experience. Nearly half (48%) of Americans surveyed have the kids help set the table, more than three in 10 (31%) enlist them to clean the dishes and over a quarter (27%) involve them by having them help serve the meal.

“Mealtime traditions and holiday rituals link us with our extended family, our ethnic group, our religions and our heritage. They help us to remember what is important. Even if the event doesn’t go perfectly, we come away with a deeper understanding of where we come from, and a feeling of being part of a whole,” said Weinstein.

When the holiday meal has been prepared and Americans are sitting around the holiday dinner table with their loved ones, nearly three out of four (72%) are most thankful to have their family together and more than seven in ten (71%) agree that the best way to continue their family traditions is through gatherings and celebrations.

The importance of family mealtime beyond the holidays

Weinstein reminds us that getting together for a family meal doesn’t need to be saved for holidays or special occasions. The experience of sharing meals together throughout the year is now recognized for its potential and far-reaching benefits. Numerous studies indicate that families that eat meals together on a regular basis:

Are better able to communicate with one another

Have stronger family bonds

Are healthier (both emotionally and physically)

Are more likely to stay together

Generally, are more successful

The impact of family meals on children individually is of even greater importance. According to research presented by Weinstein, children of families that eat meals together on a regular basis typically:

Make better grades

Are less likely to succumb to negative influences

Are more likely to be emotionally content and have positive peer relationships

Are more likely to turn to parents to discuss serious issues

Have healthier eating habits

For more information and tips from Miriam Weinstein and the J.M. Smucker Company about the benefits of family mealtime, visit www.poweroffamilymeals.com.


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