We settled in around the kitchen table. Too many of us squeezed around the oval, but that’s what we always do. We end up shoulder to shoulder. Some of us lean in to clear space, the others lean back. We tend to alternate back and forth, taking turns at a fork full here and a fork full there. Plates, platters, bowls, glasses, silverware, condiments, napkins and food — lots and lots of food — cover the table top. We’re happy, busy and hungry. This is our Sunday family dinner that just passed, the way I remembered it from my youth. It doesn’t happen as much anymore. Time, distance, age and living life get in the way.
We didn’t invent it, nor do we corner the market on this type of family get-together. My guess is that it happens in many households (as it should). Nothing beats family. While the food brings us to the table, the conversation keeps us there. Long after the table is cleared and the dishes are endlessly stacked on the kitchen counter, waistbands are loosened and tea glasses are filled for the umpteenth time, guess where we are? Yep, still at the table.
It’s random conversation, jumping around like popcorn in a popper. Somebody starts in a direction, and just when you think the topic has legs, it makes a U-turn and ends up headed in some other crazy direction. Then out of nowhere, you tap into some off the wall conversation involving ear hair. What? You heard me. OMG. It’s a short conversation, but it serves as the elixir needed for a great big laugh — the first of many. The table is roaring, and then suddenly we’re off in another direction.
In addition to the riveting ear hair discussion, here’s just a sampling of what we covered in our four-hour table talk marathon. Favorite TV commercials covering multiple generations led us to our favorite old shows, which bridged into actors and actresses, which led to movies, followed by favorite candy. And then out of nowhere, an about-face took us to favorite food, which led to barbecue, which led to sauce, which led to hot weather. I’m exhausted, but the day is young.
My favorite topic is when our elders start talking about the past. Now we’re cooking. Their running down the favorite memories of growing up with cousins, friends, school pals and the like is absolutely mesmerizing. The nostalgia, the memories and the generational mores being revisited by aunts, uncles, sisters and brothers makes for the very best of conversation.
Forget the history books and classes. Listening to a Marine veteran telling stories of the time he served leaves us almost breathless. The crowded table and the inane conversation about weather, furniture and the like pale in comparison to real-life history.
I love when our family converses around the table. Love is abundant. So are the stories. Some are embellished. That’s OK. We’re all family. I hate when the day ends.