This I Believe

Susan - Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Entered on January 8, 2008
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: family

I believe in the power of dinner. I believe that sitting down together, in a circle, and breaking bread, can be not only a religious ritual, but a basic human act of unity.

I have what is optimistically and simplistically called a “blended family”. I am my sweet, carpenter husband’s third wife. He brought three daughters to our marriage, two of them twins, and I brought one more. We have also been lucky enough to gain a nephew, a son-in-law and two grandsons. Each member of our family is lovable, maddening, talented, opinionated, moody and unique. Each member of our family is also a fierce individual and that makes the “blending” of our family impossible and undesirable.

We bring all that we are to the dinner table every Thursday evening. We are joined – whether it be by blood ties, the bonds of love, the institution of marriage, or just a tribal determination to make our group work. There aren’t enough chairs in the world for all that sits at the table with us. We bring our different expectations and beliefs, our backgrounds and ideas, our ages and our attitudes, our life experiences and our emotional baggage. Our many moods sit beside us, as do our diverse personalities, our angry outbursts and our heartbreaks. We share our victories and our imagined slights. We celebrate loudly or sit in sullen silence. We listen to the wisdom of the ages or marvel over the honesty of a child. Tattoos and truth sit at our table, as do memories and old wounds. Broken-home guilt and the hope that “the third time is the charm” also have a spot at the table.

I see books in the bookstore, written by experts, that tell you how to be a good stepparent. I don’t buy those books. What I do is leaf through my recipe books each week, searching for a dish that will satisfy picky eaters and vegetarians alike. Our table is a microcosm of the wider world, and we keep the peace by sharing dinner every Thursday.