Monday, October 01, 2007

A Dinner Event

Although when I was young my immediate family was not large, both of my parents came from large families and thus had ‘large’ family mindsets. This was most evident at dinner. To the Ouellette’s and the Tiffany’s, dinner is an event.

I can remember being squished around the small kitchen table eating as a family, or all sitting at the dinning room table eating and talking. I never remember my brother and I being too young for us to eat ‘as a family.’

As I got older eating as a family became harder and harder. Work schedules, school, and activities all pushed for our time and our ‘as a family’ nights became less and less. Once David and Brandon arrived, my parent’s determination to eat as a family was renewed with great vigor.

Did we always eat as a family? No; however, the times we didn’t were far and few. I have tried very hard to have dinner ‘as a family’ just about every evening since my Mom has passed. It is a gift and a tradition that I cannot afford to let go. Too many families do not eat together, and if they do it is not ‘an event.’

Everyone in our family had a job. Everyone in our family participated in someway or another. Seldom was it just Mom in the kitchen making dinner for everyone. Setting the table, ‘icing the glasses’, or even helping with one of the sides were always jobs that were given out to each member of the family. Everyone participated- then everyone ate.

As we grew older, Jason and I took on more ‘important’ jobs with dinner. Monday’s were my Dad’s night to cook and I followed on Tuesday. Wednesday was a leftover night or a night for Mom. Thursday’s went to Jason and Friday through Sunday went to back to Mom. No matter whose job it was to cook- everyone still had things to do.

Tonight I am happy and sad. My emotions are truly mixed. I don’t know if I should cry, or if I should smile. I am choosing to smile- even if a small tear slides out!

Two of my Dad’s brother’s are visiting from New York. One of my Aunts had off from work today so we planned dinner this evening. It was like I remember. We had apricot chicken, fresh yellow squash, asparagus, homemade biscuits, pesto alfredo, tea- sweet and un, and chocolate cake for dissert. Everyone had a job- and we all ate!

The meal lasted almost two hours while we sat at the table talking and laughing not even concerned about the dishes. When we finally decided it was getting time to leave we all cleaned up and put things away. In all of my attempts to eat ‘as a family’, I have sure missed eating as a family.

At some point this week gather your family together and have a dinner event. Give everyone a job…don’t just leave the work up to one person. Get everyone involved. Then sit down and enjoy each other’s company with stories, memories, and laughter. Let the dishes sit for just a while. When it’s finally over, get everyone involved in cleaning. Make a memory.


Roxana said...

Thanks for that, Joseph. I've also been remembering 'family dinners' and that my kids and I rarely sit to the table to eat together. I better get started while they are in the memory making stages. (and while they still think I'm the greatest!)

Sheree said...

Joseph, what a sweet post. Joel grew up with a large family. His mother could dinner everyday except on Sundays. She to this day continues to cook dinner whether it is her and dad or the family. As a result Joel prefers that I cook dinner which I try to do at least 5 days a week. I have to agree with you, dinner has become one of favorite times of the day.

Karla said...

WOW Joseph! I, too, remember times around the dinner table - talking for what seemed like hours with family and friends. I share your memories and feelings - also, not knowing at times whether to smile or cry. I love your choice to smile even though a tear may slide through.

Love you - you are in our thoughts and prayers.

Isom said...

Well, I as a child and growing up remember never eating at the table as a family unless it was Thanksgiving or Christmas. My dad watched TV while eating, and I took on this habit as I got older and ate in my room watching TV, yes and unbeleivingly my mother aloud that. However, Chris and I have been dedicated to eating as a family since we've been married and it truly is wonderful! Even now at my parents I tell my dad to get in here to the table with us and we have all starting to eat at one table at my parents house, and it is great!

Linda Elms said...

Oh the memories that flooded my heart and mind as I read your post. As Karla mentioned, I know we spent hours around the table talking after dinner was all finished. There were not very many times that went by when I was a kid that we didn't sit around the table and just "talk". It didn't have to be about anything important. Bro. Elms and I always tried to have time around the table with the boys. There is something about being in the kitchen, together, that makes special memories!! I hate to this day being in the kitchen by myself, so that's why I have a house where the living room is open to my kitchen. I can't stand to be stuck in a room by myself while others are talking and having fun without me. LOL! Thank you for the great post!

Billy and Michelle said...

Great post Bro Joseph! My dad is a workaholic, he always worked every day that I can rememeber (except Christmas). But he always was home by five for our family dinner. What wonderful memories those are! I had to introduce family eating to Billy, his family eats in front of the TV also (even on Thanksgiving). We having been holding dinner until eight so we can eat dinner with him. Next week he goes to night shift, so we can eat at six again (he goes in at 7pm). I want my kids to have those memories.

Keith and Carla said...

Great post, Joseph! I love having those great conversations around the table and the laughter that is involved. We eat at home at least 6 days a week - these memories are becoming our treasures. The girls now have their night to cook - Friday. They just let me know what ingredients to purchase and they do the work - clean up and all!

Joseph James said...

Michelle- I think it is great that ya'll have 'held' dinner for him.

Clarks- You need to blog about a dinner your girls make. I would love to see it. lol The first few months we cooked it was very simple and sometimes not too healthy was a start and it got us involved!

JulieK said...

We love family dinner time! Thank you for this post. It has flooded so many memories into my mind. At the Shahan's there was always a meal or snack.... always eating LOL! And the visiting around the table would then linger to the living room with coffee.
I love it when we are all in the kitchen helping and having fun. Just this past Tuesday night everything I had planned to cook I was missing 1 ingrediant. Todd took the cook book and we tried something new and made it together as a family.