Are you listening?
Our relationship with food goes far beyond what we place on the table. For most people, food — like music, can evoke myriad emotions in the most vivid of ways. Our senses are far from common when it comes to the almighty nosh and empires have been built over the dinner table because food brings people together.
I come from a culturally diverse family which meant, depending on where I was and who I was with at any given point of my childhood, I would be immersed in this diversity. It was very apparent when it came to cuisine and don’t even get me started on how all this diversity related to religion, but I digress…
On Mom’s Side…
My mom was the baby of nine kids and was what she called a, “Heinz 57” meaning she was a little bit of a lot of nationalities. Her parents were not very well-off with nine kids and food was whatever could be gotten. A lot of comfort type foods were the call of the day. Anything from Chicken and Dumplings to Corned Beef and Cabbage or Stuffed Bell Peppers.
I am an expert potato fryer and gravy maker from years of practice and oh the things I can do with Pork Chops!
On Dad’s Side…
My dad was the middle kid of seven kids. My paternal grandparents were a bit better off than my maternal family so things were not too sparse however, my dad’s side of the family is a mix of Syrian, Lebanese and as my grandma called it, “West Virginia Hillbilly”. Our common Sunday family dinners would be an affair of Kusa, Grape Leaves, BBQ Chicken, cold Pork-n-Beans and granny’s amazing homemade bread.
The Lost Art of the Family Dinner
Growing up what I found to be a common denominator of dinner time was that people arrived in whatever mood they were in from whatever day they had and no one really knew [or appreciated] what that was. It seemed to me people mostly were in a hurry to eat and then in a hurry to clean-up and get on with whatever else the day was going to hold.
As a mother, I wanted to know what those things were. Those things that made up my children’s days were important; the things that determined how they felt about themselves and life were things I wanted to know and the dinner table was the one place we all gathered in one place most days.
After we were all seated, plates full and Grace given we would take turns around the table playing a little game we like to call “Low/High”. Don’t mix it up with “High/Low”, as there is a purpose for the order.
When it is your turn you start with the “Low” and tell everyone at the table what the “low” part of your day (that very day) was or has been. Next, you tell the “High” point of your day. The order allows you to always end on a “high” so as to help move away from the “low”. It also allows each person a moment to vent if or when venting was in order.
In addition, and the best part, is that it allowed each of us to take a moment to reflect on and acknowledge whatever the “lows” were and to share in celebration of the “highs”. Playing this game taught me a lot about my children and about myself as a mother and I know that it brought my family closer at the end of each day. It allowed each of us to have a little more understanding into the mood with which we are dealing with in each other.
When we had company, they would join in. Of course it would always make everyone laugh because if it was the guests first time they would get silly and shy.
Give it a try tonight. You never know what you will learn about the people you share your life and your home with.