When I published the last post WordPress, in all of its cleverness, promoted me to think about posting on a few topics. Family dinners was one of them, and being in a writing sort of mood I took the bait.
This may be of no interest to anybody but me, but oh well! I think instead of posting about dinners at my house with Matt, I’ll post about the real ‘family dinners’, which involve nothing short of a 3-ring circus of events.
So here’s the low down. I have dinner with my family of origin about every month or so, always at my Mom and Dad’s place in Grass Valley. In summer these are eaten outdoors, and in the winter at the trusty kitchen table that my mom purchased from my 5th grade teacher oh so long ago (it’s an antique – about 150 yrs old, no kidding!). No matter the venue and no matter how old I am they go a little something like this:
They are usually on a Sunday, about 5pm. They start out intending to be about 4pm, so that is when I mentally plan to be ready, but like most things in the family, the don’t go off on time.
They almost always involved bbqing some kind of meat – I can’t remember a vegetarian dinner of this nature yet. Tri-tip, Salmon, Chicken breasts and Tenderloin are favorites.
Given that my little sis lives just next door, her and my nephew are players at the table as well. There is usually a lot of going back and forth between their two houses as we prep for the meal. This is facilitated by my nephew who runs like the wind yelling about orders from one house to the other like the town crier.
I always seem to get roped into setting the table, and helping with clean up while my sister gets off scott-free from all these duties. Of late she’s offered to help, which I think sent the universe off it’s axis (my sis is great, but not so much in the kitchen clean up arena).
We always have a large garden salad (if sis contributes anything it’s the salad, but typically I have to actually put it together, but not always). There is usually 2 types of side dishes, which I am now allowed to contribute to. I’ve yet to be allowed to provide the meat. Once a parent, always a parent I suppose.
Once the food is set, and we are all seated in our typical configuration the circus begins. It’s a mix of clanging glasses and forks, requests for passing this or that, and my mom harping on my dad about taking too big of bites or food on his moustache or chin (Dad had a stroke some years back and has trouble with fork-eye coordination at times).
Mom usually sits down last and is getting up constantly to get things for us, despite our pleas that we can, in fact, get up ourselves to get the mustard or whatever.
I often take seconds of everything but the meat. Dad always takes seconds of the meat. We are lucky if my nephew eats anything (it’s all ‘dirty’ if it’s not chicken nuggets, but that too is evolving), and my sister will eat anything she thinks has been cooked without added fats or sugars. Matt and my sis’s boyfriend gratefully eat a balanced meal of all the options.
Conversation is usually light and centered a lot around getting my nephew to settle down and we NEVER bring up politics, for fear of sending dad into a tirade that goes off like a cannon if we are not careful. There are awkward undertones to some extent, but in general its pleasant. Matt is lucky to get a word in edgewise and it’s sometimes hard to keep up with the ever-shifting topics.
After dinner we clear plates and mom insists…really insists, on cleaning everything RIGHT THEN AND THERE – throwback from her days of serious cleaning OCD. Dad asks for dessert about 3.2 seconds after his plate has left the table. The reason is two fold: first, he knows she made something a-mazing like homemade lemon cheesecake or Magnolia pie. Second, he (like me) really values the dessert portion of the meal far more than the meal itself. Why eat at all if not to earn your dessert?
Reluctantly we bring out dessert and serve it up do Dad. I nibble at it while I dish it out, constantly debating whether or not to actually have a formal piece of whatever it is or just nibble and pretend I didn’t have any. The former usually wins out as my strategy. Nobody else has dessert right then, but a few of us may linger at the table a little longer, helping ourselves to a second glass of wine, water, or maybe even some hot tea.
I help mom in the kitchen, Matt tries to help put things away to no avail because mom has her system and by God, you better not mess with it. There is joking and banter about how we ‘break all the rules’ of clean up when we come over.
I usually walk away feeling like I’m 12 again, despite the fact that I’m celebrating my 35th birthday next month.
In short, it’s a full catastrophe and I wouldn’t miss any of them for the world!
Okay, your turn – what are your family dinners like?