Friday, April 02, 2004
In my previous life I was a young (22 yr old) bride who suddenly became "wicked stepmother" to 3 pre-adolescent boys. Now, I'll go into my family background at some point, suffice it to say - I grew up in a middle class family with some strict morals/values and more than a little sheltered. These poor kids had 2 alcoholic parents and every single member of the extended family (including grandparents) had a drinking or drug problem. The difference between right and wrong had never been SHOWN to them. (Key word SHOWN). No structure, no discipline.
So anyway - along comes little Miss Priss and figures she is going to save the world (at least for these 3 boys). We didn't have much - as you can imagine. But I worked, tried to keep the house up and saved to get us out of the horrible neighborhood that we lived in. YEAH - we got a house where the boys had their first bedroom (yes FIRST). They all shared one, but I had bunkbeds and a twin and they thought it was a palace.
Next step - make the house as nice as possible. My biggest goal-I Had To Have a dining room table. It had to sit 8 people, with room for 10 if need be. I even went so far as to take a second job to buy that table.
I still remember when I bought it. It was at some junk furniture place, but it was exactly what I had in mind. The day they delivered it I had the brass candlesticks all ready with a pretty lace tablecloth and placemats. The boys came home that evening - everything was set and the candles lit. They were awe struck. One boy just kept touching the tablecloth, afraid someone would ruin it because it was so delicate. I even remember I made lasanga that night.
We sat at that table as a family. We ate together, talked about their days and had a real conversation. It was a first for them.
For the nine years that followed that first dinner, I insisted that all dinners take place around that table. Never, not one time, did anyone give me any argument about that. In fact - if I hadn't set the table by dinner time, someone would ask why we weren't going to sit at the table. It became something they counted on.
Please do not take this little piece of memory and think we had a fairy tale life. Nope - not at all. We had more than our fair share of ugliness. But....we had dinner at the table, talked about their days and current events and they knew - at that moment - someone was listening to them. It felt like a family for that brief time.
I have admitted that I watch Nick @ Nite. Right now they are running a series of spots on how important it is to take the time to sit and have a meal around the family table. That is what triggered this post. It is important - it does matter - and it's such a simple thing. Really.