Recently I’ve noticed a series of public services announcements promoting “device free dinners.”
They put me in mind of my double-bill for May’s Pick(s) of the month: “I Remember Mama” and “Meet Me in St. Louis.” The disappearing ritual of family dinner is central to both films. All movie schedules are for Turner Classic Movies.
I REMEMBER MAMA: MAY 14, 8:00 EDT
MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS: MAY 9, 6:00 PM EDT
Both films take place in the first decade of the 20th Century; before the United States became a player on the world’s stage. Both celebrate family life in an era before Sigmund Freud pathologized parents; before John Bradshaw pathologized childhood (contemporary pediatricians would have a field day diagnosing and prescribing for Tootie, the youngest child in Meet Me in St. Louis); before peculiar relatives were branded as dysfunctional instead of being lovingly accepted as eccentric; and before the phrase “family values” became a politically divisive cri de coeur.