The tradition of weekly Wednesday night dinners in Athens evolved from my family. It all started in Calvary, Georgia. For as long as I can remember, Family Night has been a weekly tradition of putting all work aside, relaxing, cooking amazing food, and gathering family together around the table.
My older cousins Bradley Jones, Chaz, and Emily Oliver originally got Family Night started in Athens when they first came to the University of Georgia. They began hosting weekly dinners and inviting their closest friends.
Eventually, the group grew to include boyfriends, girlfriends, roommates, neighbors, and friends of friends. It was also a great way of meeting new people because everyone was so welcoming. When I came up to Athens to attend UGA, I also joined and gained a whole new group of lifelong friends.
Eventually, it became a much larger group of friends that came from the University of Georgia, North Georgia College, Athens Technical College, and even graduates that were still living around the Athens area.
Most of us have known each other for years, but meeting new people wasn’t uncommon and they usually returned and were welcomed back with open arms. On average, we had about 15-20 members attending Family Night every week.
We would take turns hosting and cooking dinners. It wasn’t a pizza take out kind of thing. We’re talking about home-cooked meals y’all. It was definitely a challenge cooking for such a large group of people, but time spent with “family” was well worth it and so was the food!
When these sorts of events happened, we went all out. All the family members prepared and brought their best home cooked meal for the feast. We even got really competitive on who could cook the best meals and celebrated special occasions such as Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Family night was a great way to drop everything and come together to keep in touch with friends and family when times got busy. It was the one-day of the week where we could just relax and catch up. If we didn’t have this once a week, I probably wouldn’t have even seen my family or closest friends as much as I did and that’s something I truly treasure.
If someone couldn’t attend, we made sure they were sent a take-home plate. Because let’s face it, everyone has to eat during a stressful test or project and there’s no better meal than a home-cooked one prepared with love from their “family.”
“Is it okay if I bring my dog?” The answer was always yes! After all, dogs are family too. They were brought over to enjoy company from the humans as well as other furry friends. Our pets weren’t left out of the scrumptious meals either. They were also served part of our feast or as my granddad, Big Daddy, used to say, “the crumbs under the table.”
Because most of us were college kids, we typically didn’t eat the best food. Eating out was our go-to because it was a quick and easy fix.
Now that I’ve graduated, I plan to continue to carry on this tradition in Atlanta and wherever life takes me. Cooking is more than just about eating: it is something that ties people together.
It doesn’t get much better than gathering with friends and family, meeting new people, cooking great meals, making new memories, and passing on our beloved family tradition! Cheers!