perils with writing and whatnot
LifeWrite wants me to write about having dinner with my family. Sounds simple enough. However, I’m required to do this piece using the process approach. Even after reading the article for this lesson, I’m still not too sure what kind of approach this is. Is it like a How-To article where everything is in a certain order and instructions are given? Or maybe it’s suppose to be like a recipe? That’s kind of the same as a How-To, isn’t it? Or should it be written as a theme paper? I haven’t got a clue.
Dinner was always predictable at our house. Even on holidays when the big meal would be at 2pm, there was still a light meal at 6pm. It never failed. My mom had full control over it. Even when the grill outside was used by my dad, it was used at the time specified by my mom. This strict schedule isn’t a bad idea. It kept me out of serious trouble during my youth.
I was expected to be home at 5:30. This half-hour before the meal was spend washing hands and helping with the last-minute things in the kitchen.
Promptly at 6pm everyone would head to the kitchen and sit at their usual places at the table. Mom sat closes to the stove. Dad sat closes to the sink. My brother’s place was against the wall of the staircase that went to the basement. My seat was against the wall of the living room. This sitting arrangement never wavered the entire time I was growing up.
Grace wasn’t said at our house except for on religious holidays. Although we went to church every week, it just didn’t follow us home. Yes, we must have been ‘Sunday Christians’.
As in most households where there are children, my brother and I were served first. After all, the parents, once they had started eating, hoped they wouldn’t have to stop to help one of us. Out of habit, it continued this way when my brother and I were well past the age of needing help at the dinner table. Dad was always served last. This was his preference. Whatever was left in the serving bowls and on the serving platters was his. There wasn’t all that much more than what was on everyone else’s plate, but still, Dad got it.
Everyone had a napkin, although no one was expected to put it in his or her lap. We didn’t seem to need to protect our clothes because we just didn’t drop any food. Salt and pepper shakers were never on the table. No one seemed to want more salt. Often Dad would want more pepper, which meant Mom had to get up from the table and get out the shaker from the cupboard right behind where she sat. Salad dressing was always a must, and everyone had a different favorite. Having all of those bottles of salad dressing in the middle on the table, made me think of a smörgåsbord, for some unknown reason.
No one was required to finish what was on their plates. However, the rule was that you must try everything, just one teaspoon full. We, also, weren’t required to eat until our plates were empty. If you’re full, you’re full. Although, if you didn’t eat everything minus the sample tasted food, you wouldn’t get desert. If you’re too full to finish what’s on your plate, you’re too full for dessert… no exceptions. Dessert rarely meant a piece of cake or a dish of ice cream. It usually was a small dish of canned fruit or gelatin in one flavor or another. I’ve always thought of dessert as being the little bit of sweet to end the meal.
Everyone was expected to stay at the table until everyone was done. With Dad having a little more food on his plate, this was the time when Mom would ask my brother and me about our day, offer small helps with homework, and sometimes re-enforce house rules.
I would say that dinner at my home was mundane at best. There wasn’t any lively conversation and there didn’t seem to be much variety in the menu. Of course, I didn’t complaint. Mom would have pushed me into the kitchen and took me it was my turn to prepare the meal. The entire family would be complaining then. Even today, I’m a terrible cook.
Text+Sound by Wayne Mason
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