I believe in eating dinner as a family. Perhaps the first thing that comes to mind with the mention of the word family is the six of us huddled around the weak, stained table I have grown to admire, discussing anything within the bounds of being discussed.
We eat dinner in the same place, same time, and same style each night. This repetition is boring, but it is precisely this monotony that provides the fuel for such exciting, bonding discussions. We always eat in the nook, at ten at night. The eight lights in the kitchen are bright, never waning, and the room is always warm because of the cooking.
I’m not sure how the seating arrangements came into existence, but they don’t change. My brother is on the left, persistently resisting what my mom tries to feed him. Dadi, my grandma, smiles diligently as she paints pictures about India and her childhood with carefully chosen words. Daddy and my older sister are on the opposite side of me, entering into a playful debate about school and friendship. And I sit there to enjoy it all.
There are some rules that subsist about dinner for it to have such a powerful impact. The most important is that we can’t do anything other than sit at the table. No newspapers, books, or homework; the only thing allowed is talking. And although in some cases the interaction is forced, the effect is the same: we are forced to communicate. This communication is what lends my family to be as magical as it is.
I am just now realizing how much I enjoyed talking as a family while eating dinner. A little more than two years ago, we brought a brand new table. In every respect, it was much more superior to the pathetic old thing we had set up previously. It was larger, more eccentric, and more spacious. This was why I hated it. The aged, rickety table from before was always loving towards me; it actually understood me, and I understood it. There was a story behind every stain and cut it endured. This new table was pompous and supercilious. My parents even put a tablecloth on it, to satisfy its ego.
At the beginning of this year, my sister went to MSU to pursue a medical degree. Although she was technically only a sixth of my family, she took a lot more than that with her. As a result of her leaving, one side of the table seems barren. And even though we have her come back a few weekends, it’s not the same.
There are only a few things that I remember as trademarks of my family; something that makes us unique and special. Although to some it may just be a time to ingest food, eating at home— together—is one of the highlights of my day. And because of that, I believe in eating dinner with my family.
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