HuffPost Family Dinner Downloads -- Conversation Starters For Your Family Dinner

HuffPost Family Dinner Downloads -- Conversation Starters For Your Family Dinner

In her new book, The Family Dinner, Laurie David talks about the importance of families making a ritual of sitting down to dinner together, and how family dinners offer a great opportunity for meaningful discussions about the day's news. "Dinner," she says, "is as much about digestible conversation as it is about delicious food."

We couldn't agree more. So HuffPost has joined with Laurie to launch a new feature we're calling HuffPost Family Dinner Downloads. Every Friday afternoon, just in time for dinner, our editors will highlight one of the most compelling news stories of the week -- stories that will spark a lively discussion among the whole family.

The family can gather around the laptop, smartphone, or iPad -- or just print out the post and pass it around the table. Each Dinner Download will end with a question or two that we hope will get everyone thinking and sharing their thoughts, feelings, and opinions.

This week, everyone was talking about the midterm elections, in which Republicans gained control of the House of Representatives and added a number of seats in the Senate. President Obama described the results as "a shellacking" -- a slang term for a thorough beating (no one is sure how the word, which originally referred to applying a coat of shiny polish to something, came to mean the same as "thrashing," "drubbing" or "pounding." Bonus discussion: how do you think "shellacking" came to mean a big defeat?)

One of the key factors in the outcome of the election was who turned out to vote - and who didn't. In 2008, more young people voted than old people. But this week, twice as many voters 65 or older showed up at the polls than voters 18 to 29. That's a very big change!

Why do you think so few young people turned out to vote this time? What would you do to encourage more young people to vote?

Another interesting development this year was the way some of the losing candidates reacted. There is a long tradition in American politics of defeated candidates calling the winner to concede and congratulate them. But as campaigns have gotten nastier, with millions of dollars spent on TV commercials that paint your opponent in very negative ways, that tradition seems to be in danger of coming to an end.

One losing candidate brought a baseball bat to his concession speech Tuesday night and had some menacing words for his opponent. Another insisted that her victorious opponent watch her 30-minute campaign commercial. And one candidate decided to not concede at all, saying the race was "too close to call" -- even though she ended up losing by over 700,000 votes.

Do you think it's wrong not to admit that you've lost and warmly congratulate the person who beat you? Or do you think after saying mean and nasty things to each other month after month, it's phony to put on a big smile and act like everyone is good friends? Is it important to be a good loser?

For more tips and recipes, check out The Family Dinner: Great Ways to Connect with Your Kids, One Meal at a Time by Laurie David and Kirstin Uhrenholdt.