This I Believe

Ellen - Washington, District of Columbia
Entered on January 26, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: family
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My favorite meal my dad makes is his pancakes. My brother and I claim that he will one day be famous for them. My favorite meal my mother makes is her Fettuccini Alfredo, but only when she makes the sauce correctly. When she makes it wrong, my brother and I complain and tell her to stick to the recipe.

Two events in our family’s life stick out in my mind. The first is when we remodeled our basement. Before dinner each night, my dad would give us a tour of the basement to show that days work. We would discuss what the construction workers were going to do, and argue over how to decorate the basement—we finally voted on painting the bathroom red over my dad’s pancakes. We were mysteriously out of spoons the entire remodeling process, and would joke about never being able to eat soup again and plot ways to steal our spoons back from the construction workers. The remodeling process took about two months, and the heavy discussion about our basement occurred over dinner the entire time.

The other event is not as happy as remodeling the basement; it was about my grandmother’s death. My dad announced that she had lung cancer over grilled cheese and tomato soup: two years later, we found out she was on her last legs of life over spaghetti with meatballs. Instead of laughing and light conversation about colors of the bathroom, we talked quietly and solemnly about trips to Iowa and what to do when the time came. As different as they are, these conversations have one major thing in common: I cannot imagine them occurring anywhere else other than our dining room table.

I don’t have a life-changing story to tell, and I don’t have a family secret or trauma that holds my family together. I believe that our family dinners hold us together. My family leads separate lives with separate schedules, which sometimes results in missed or rushed dinners. I’ve sat at the dinner table in silence while everyone inhales their food to rush to their next activity. I’ve even stood around the kitchen table eating micro-waved hot dogs while packing up a bag to head to a music lesson. I’ve come to realize that the important thing is, no matter how busy our schedules may be, my family continues to have these dinners every night. I believe that these family dinners are what have kept me going the last nineteen years, and I plan on attending family dinners for as long as I can—even if my mom makes the Alfredo sauce wrong.