Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A meal to go with it

Dinner is the time of day I guard most carefully in this house.  I love to prepare the food; I especially love when the kids prepare the food; I love the food itself.  I still love it, despite the fact that some days, it requires near-herculean efforts to get tired kids to rouse themselves off the couch, cranky kids calmed down enough to sit, crying kids to stop crying, mad kids to leave their rooms and come to the table. But times are changing.  Something new is happening.  These days.... we linger.

The first time I noticed it, we lingered 5 minutes past the end of the meal.  The next week, 10. One evening the following week, we were at the table for nearly an hour.

Later that same week, I read this article on The Family Dinner.  Which, in the end, made me feel incredibly sad for her, more than anything else.

Then I read this one, which I liked because at least half of our monthly meals come from DALS.  Love this post, too, with the embedded links - (it made me realize how much I DO know about my own family, thanks to my mom and dad - and how much we have not yet shared with our own kids...)

And this one, which I really loved, because she is smart and funny and articulates how liking to cook for your family doesn't, in any way, pose a threat to maintaining a feminist perspective.

But the really good part?  And the point I'm really trying to make?  Is what happened the NEXT night, a night when dinner was served at 5:45, yet everyone was still seated an hour later.  It was a give-a-mouse-a-cookie  kind of evening:

We shared the good part, bad part, silly part of our day.  Something someone said triggered a conversation about experiences versus material gifts.  We asked the kids to recount some of the adventures (experiences) we had in the past year.  They rattled off the highlights of a handful of adventures we've shared, including unforgettable moments as well as seemingly tiny details. We asked them, then, to name presents (material gifts) they'd unwrapped on Christmas morning.  They stared at us.  And said nothing.

Jeff and I were gleeful in pointing out, "See!  It's the experiences we remember!"  Our experiences v. stuff conversation somehow evolved into Boy Scouts, and our refusal to let our sons participate in Boy Scouts, because of the BSA's divisive and unrelenting stance on inclusion of gay leaders.  That led to an in-depth conversation on gay marriage, which led to an explanation of the recent decision in Virginia to overturn the ban on gay marriage, and how that decision is supported by the Supreme Court, which led to a bigger discussion on legislation at the state and federal level, and eventually led to why this is good news especially for gay couples who wish to adopt a child, which led to a brief foray into all the different kinds of families there are, and that the one thing they all share is that they - we -  love each other, so much...

And it happened at the dinner table. We gave our mice a cookie, and they asked for a whole meal to go with it.

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