Saturday, August 22, 2009

Steak Night and Community Dining

It is not secret that Brian and I have very little in common. Dinner with the family, however, was a shared common value that has probably done more for our sense of togetherness as both a couple and a family than anything else. It was a value and dream that we seemed to have lost as our children became older and busier.

Not only are schedules all over the board for every member of the household, but we are sucked in by the t.v. A few nights quickly become months as we hear ourselves saying "dinner is on the stove, fix yourself a plate." We are tired, we rationalize. We are still watching Letterman together..doesn't that count?

This summer we have been able to reconnect in a very strange way. It started with Steak Night at 11th Street Bar. Yes, my family has rediscovered family dinners at the local bar. Very sad statement, I know. Every Wednesday is Family Night. Bands play music, kids and adults dance, people in the community visit with each other.

We share meals and stories together. We become unplugged and reconnect with breathing life.

This weekly bar outing led to conversations with family friends on the benefits of communal dining.

At a time when many of our friends and family are overwhelmed with job concerns, etc. We have found that communal dining gives all of us a sense of control and support that we had taken for granted before.

We start with 3 families over for dinner 3-4 days a week for community dining in our living room. We quickly out-grow the living room and move to living-room and morning room. (It is still too darn hot for the back deck!)

We are sometimes tired and grouchy. We (the families) fix food for 10-15 people, knowing that there will always be someone (usually one of the teens) missing for soccer or band or a night at the movies, etc.

It is simple, really. This small way of building community. I fix a pitcher (or two) of tea. We plan ahead what nights various families are cooking what, we set tables and everyone else brings sides. We turn off the t.v. We sometimes put on a c.d..sometimes not. Everyone swaps the ups and downs of work.Michael loves to sing Louis Armstrong at the table very loudly.We try not to encourage him. The boys steal each others food. Cody says his Aunt Sandy is assaulting her every time she hugs him. He grins saying hurts. These hugs hurt!

Yes, it's true. We still have a few nights a week where we scrounge for dinner and sit in front of the t.v. But they are becoming fewer and farther between.

I am grateful to have this time to share our lives with each other.

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