During my teenaged years, I lived in Coronado, California. My father was in the Navy and we lived in Officer’s quarters on the base. Every afternoon after school I’d grab a soda, and head to the park with my pals to hang around and…be teenagers. At around 5 pm, I’d have to leave them all, jump on my spray painted Schwinn and hightail it along the ocean, through the gates of the base, past cat calling sailors, through the barracks, pushing against the blast of Jet planes practicing their Touch and Gos, and back to our quarters. I’d run in the door, set the table and resume position for the nightly dinner. My dad would change out of his uniform, grab a Martini and sit at the head of the table. We’d pass the broccoli and discuss the day’s events. I HATED having to leave my friends and return for dinner. None of them had to be home.
Now that I am older my old pals have all told me how jealous they were that I went home to a family dinner each night. They went home to emtpy houses and TV dinners. They weren’t forced to offload the day’s events…to purge and think through their problems. As much as I hated it, I can now see, the importance of it. It was an unconditional circle of support, and love. They were there EVERY night to listen and help. I usually didn’t share very much at dinner time, but just knowing they were there was the important part.
Now that I’m a parent, my husband and I work hard at maintaining the ritual of a nightly family dinner. It’s a bit tough at times with soccer practice and hip hop practice, but it’s important and we try our best to make it happen. So, when I look at dining rooms, I realize they aren’t just tables and chairs, they are places where families and friends come together, and where souls are nurtured.