McDonald’s Family Nights happen every Wednesday from 4-7 p.m. at participating restaurants
There are some things that are ingrained in your memory from your earliest years. Even if you don’t have a full recollection of everything that happened or can’t recall all of the details, you know exactly how you felt. I’m lucky: I have so many happy glimpses of my childhood, from swimming in my grandparents’ backyard pool, to playing hide n’ seek with all of the kids in the neighbourhood. But in my family, food is a big deal and my memories of family dinners reign supreme. Funnily enough, one of those memories only returned to me recently: Friday night dinners at McDonald’s.
I’m the second oldest of four kids, so naturally my parents drove a minivan. My dad coached high school hockey, and would run practices or have games that would stretch into the evenings. On Fridays, my mom would load me, my brother Matt, and my sisters Becka and Sarah into the van to pick up our dad at the arena. We were always in good moods, and excited to eat out. I remember it felt like such a treat (I realize now, with kids of my own, that it must have been a treat for our parents, too, to not have to cook but to still be able to sit down with us, at affordable prices, at the end of a long week). My sisters and I would each get a Happy Meal (I still have some of the retro toys—hello, Muppet Babies and Super Mario!), and burgers for Matt, Mom and Dad.
Some things never change, but I didn’t realize this until recently, when my girls, Sophie and Juliette, and I stumbled into a McDonald’s Family Nights. Like many families, weeknights at our house are often tricky to navigate with extracurricular activities, and Soph and Jules have back-to-back musical theatre classes on Wednesday evenings. A few weeks ago, we stopped to grab Chicken McNuggets on the way home. Walking into our nearest McDonald’s location in Toronto was like walking into a rousing family dinner where anyone was invited. It was packed with families, and the McDonald’s crew were delivering meals, playing with kids, offering crafts, toys and books, and talking to parents. My youngest, Juliette, quickly snagged a balloon (the kid just can’t say no to a balloon, ever) and asked that we stay to eat, rather than heading home with our meals.
It turned out to be a brilliant idea, because the kids would have chowed down in the car, and we’d have delved right into homework and bath time as soon as we walked in the door; instead I got to sit across from them, ask them about their days, find out what they’d learned in their music lessons, all over a meal we look forward to. I don’t get to do this often enough. (I know I’m not alone in this either. A recent survey conducted by McDonald’s revealed that 98 per cent of Canadian parents think it’s important to eat together as a family, and that, perhaps not surprisingly in this busy day and age, 65 per cent wish they ate together more often.)
We got home a little later that night, and the homework was a struggle to get through as bedtime loomed, but I wouldn’t have traded the extra time we spent eating together for the world (thank you, McDonald’s Family Night!). It gave me that same feeling – that happiness I felt as a kid when spending quality time with my family – that now I get to experience with my girls. And of course, there is the benefit of Mommy not having to cook.
McDonald’s Family Nights happen every Wednesday from 4-7 p.m. at participating restaurants.Enter for your chance to WIN* 1 of 5 $50 McDonald’s Gift Cards