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For a few years, I’ve had a simple idea in my head about the importance of dinner. 

It's an underrated part of the human experience.

The extravagance of a meal — the location, timing, amount of money spent, number of people present and a seemingly endless list of other variables — might change. But there is much more to our evening meal than sustenance.

I knew there was a photo story there, but it needed refining: I would not seek to find an "average" family, and I wouldn't make it about statistics. I would not seek to answer the big, philosophical questions about the importance of breaking bread.

More simply, I would use photos to tell the stories of dinner. So that's what I did, sitting down with Quad-City families to document the differences, likenesses and the experience.

Most participants volunteered, and I sought out a few others. 

After my first dinner with Sue and Terry Welty, I met three generations of the Frevert family in Blue Grass, who joined hands for prayer before sitting down for their weekly family meal.

I was led on a tour of Asbury United Methodist Church as the choir and band practiced in the background.

At Blue Grass Community Club Park, I listened to a discussion about how the Eastern Redbud tree is a misnomer, because its blossoms are more lavender than red.

I watched about a dozen students paint, eat and laugh together with a teacher who sees them more like grandchildren than students.

And, most recently, I sat for a quiet dinner between a mother and son who make a point of the routine.

Those of us fortunate enough to enjoy a regular evening meal may benefit from the reminder that the opportunity to sit down and reflect, alone or with a table full, is an enriching experience, all by itself.