Right or wrong, it has something to teach us.
We also feel our history, our personal history, often and in many ways.
Growing up had two chapters. The first chapter was abundant. Dad was a successful lawyer in his own practice. We had a five bedroom, three story brick house on two lots in Allen Park, MI. We had everything, very often new clothes, lots of food, dinners out, and many vacations. Year by year, time went on . . . then, life changed.
I was awake at night to hear Dad’s abuse of Mom. His deep booming voice minimizing her natural goddessness. And then a thump and a quiet sobbing. Shocked and deeply sad, I had a decision to make. As a 12yr old child, did I allow this intel to minimize me, after all, this was my mother and father! Or did I wait, use time to see how it turned out, keeping my thoughts to myself. I chose the latter, like most 12yr olds in the 1960s.
Mom and Dad were divorced in less than a year. We moved from that house, plenty big for eight, into a house too small for the six of us. Now we had one pair of sneakers, one pair of boots, minimally just what we needed. Consequently we had to keep our clothes clean and ready to wear again, day after day.
The most profound change was with dinner. Pre-divorce we were required to be on-time, face and hands washed and seated at 6pm. We heard a passage from the Bible and learned a new word weekly from the dictionary. Dad would quiz us through the week to correctly pronounce, spell and recite the weekly word. We had to share what happened to us and how we felt about it. And we had to be excused before we left the table.
Post-divorce dinners only happened when someone complained they were starting to get hungry. Hand washing was only when my sister and I thought our younger brothers’ hands were “too gross.” What was served was often over- cooked from a slow-cooker Mom started before she went to work. Or it was something I could devise from little bits of left-overs and flavors hidden deep in the fridge and cupboards. Again, I chose to experience this as early training for my future career as a fine dining chef or as “the gourmet chef” in our big Italian family. What happened that day and our feelings about it were now left unsaid at dinner, to built up stress. Instead, we would talked it out in private one-on-one. Sometimes the tension got very heated, depths-of-our-soul types of emotions.
Pre-divorce and post-divorce both had positive and negative aspects and life lessons. Far beyond simply being fed, communal dinners nourish in a total feeling way. It does this in many forms, often indescribable. As long as people have face-to-face contact, and especially if they’re tightly linked by an emotional bond.
It’s a tradition worthy of preserving, resurrecting, or creating new, now.
Start from where you are.
From my heart, let me express to you how much choice you have every way, everyday. As a kid, and still today, I use my imagination to keep growing, keep flowing along. Very little needs to be ingested, it’s up to you.