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.