The conversations around the dinner table from childhood are all I remember, not the food. My dad is a great conversationalist. He loves to get people talking, he really loves the "heavies" but knows how to refrain from them if need be. Many times it was just us four; my dad, my mom, my bro and I. Never was it boring, there was always something to talk about. Though my dad could have transported stories from his social work job, he never did. He always left them at work. When home, he was home.
The meals were typical 60's, 70's meals but the talk was savory. We had so many guests over it was not even funny. I loved every minute of it. There was so much to learn about our guests. And likewise, Dad's quest was to gain more knowledge about guests than vice versa. I have paid attention to this over the years.
There were never "canned" devotions but talk that patterned the verse from Deuteronomy 6:7 "Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." I had been to others' homes with canned devotions, I watched their lives. Freedom is what I experienced, a lack of it is often what played out in their homes. (not always but often)
My mother and father had two children. I have six. Meal time is a bit of a challenge for me, especially if I get caught up thinking the age old question that surfaces about 11 am- "What am I going to have for dinner?" A number of years ago it became apparent that my focus was off. I needed to hover back to my beginnings, where that time was more about togetherness than nutrition. As I have kept that as the focus the nutrition aspect has, surprisingly, fallen into place.
My push for togetherness, time to laugh and laugh and laugh and maybe talk, has been the positive motivator. This shift came slowly but it is here to stay. The focus on togetherness usurps the need for an amazing array at mealtime.
For the past (almost) three years gluten and sugar have not shown up on our table. Our meals are healthier though far from winning any nutritional trophies. The meals are simple and the conversations are varied, full and filling. But the togetherness is what I am counting on to bring health to our bones.
My dad has not been replaced by my husband. There is no contender for Bobbie Triechler. He wins the conversation game hand's down. But my husband is there, he is home sitting at the head of the table, a silent, warm, inspiring presence. Lynn, my man, comes to the table to eat and talk shop. I do love this about him.
Having given up the strict "roles" idea of what a wife or husband should be in a marriage is pure freedom (I'm talking fringe roles folks, relax). So, Lynn does not start conversations about the deeper things, I do. I start them but I certainly do not try and facilitate them or wrap them up, they would laugh me out of the house if I tried. The conversations (if that is what you call them) always have a life of their own.
Bobbie set a precedent that dinner was more than eating, it was a time to reconnect, be together. I want to sit around the table with my people tonight and every night. It is this that makes it fun to think about what to eat for dinner tonight. (or what to order)
(Photo Credit: Me, from left to right: Bob, Diane, Doug, Geoff, Jesse, Tyler, Jenna, Nicole, Robyn, RJ, Lynn, Suzanne)