Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sunday Night Dinner

There was a moment, just before falling asleep when I asked myself what I would do differently if I knew I only had a few months to live. The answer was a simple - nothing. I wouldn't do anything differently with one exception - I would have dinner with my family more often.

So - at the beginning of the summer I made a goal to have my Dad and his wife over for dinner every Sunday night. The thought was that even though there would surely be some Sundays that we would have to cancel, we would get together more than if we didn't plan.

Sunday night dinners can be alot of work. More importantly, they can be a magical time for families - special times that make all the work worthwhile.

It starts with a quick knock at the door followed immediately by the sound of the door opening and greetings of "hello -- we're here ...". Chaos ensues - Fritz (our mini schnauzer) barks wildly, crushing hugs are exchanged with kisses and greetings and laughter. We relieve our guests of their culinary contributions of pie plates and roasting pans - the whole time busily chattering. Corks are popped, wine flows, and the family affair swings into full gear!
There is a scene from "Annie Hall" where Diane Keaton and Woody Allen have dinner with Woody Allen's character's parents. Everyone is yelling across the table at one another, standing up to reach for things, engrossed in their own conversations. The conversation was the main deal - and the food - secondary. Kinda like our family dinners.

Tonight our table included my dad and his wife, my husband and two daughters, and my step-mom's 91 year old mom. It wasn't long after my dad retold the story of his childhood friend Stumps that conversation turned to debate - about the US presidential election. Things got lively! My dad played devil's advocate and my daughters bit. The 16 year old gave three minute dissertations with barely a breath and my 25 year old served as fact checker, correcting as she saw fit - quoting bits of wisdom from the blogs and boards.

We have a nasty habit of finishing one another's sentences and talking on top of one another. My husband has pointed this out to me on several occasions. Maybe that's why he pops a Motrin before dinner and gently massages his temples amid the chatter.

At the end of night, just as we started to leave, my dad said that he was so pleased that he had two granddaughters at the table who were interested in and knew about politics and what is going on in the world. Of course he extended his pride to his four children (me included) and used the moment as an opportunity to expound on the importance of voting and participating in the democratic process.

The wine was corked. The table cleared and the cooks praises sung. Hugs and kissed were exchanged amidst giddy agreements that tonight was great; that our family is great; and aren't we lucky to have more to look forward to.

I am lucky. My girls are lucky. Each dinner is a treasure trove for the memory box and satisfies our hearts as much as our bellies. Sunday night dinners -- a sacred tradition - worth the effort.

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