Ever have one of those reflective days? Today was one of those days for me. I tried to think back to my most vivid memories. They all had something in common. Food.
First, being part Asian, food is a big part of my social culture. We try to feed everybody. Or so it seemed to me growing up. I associate food with welcome and friendship. With family and laughter and togetherness.
I remember my family sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner my younger sister’s senior year in high school. Somehow that conversation got away from us. We wound up talking about putting a mare in heat between two stallions and the consequences. My sister had seen that for the first time at one of her friend’s dressage competitions. She thought something was wrong with the mare. LOL! Her friend had to re-explain the facts of life to her…well, as it pertains to horses. And then she went looking for pennies to put in the water. I guess copper can help counteract that response. From there, it spiralled into the size of a Hump Back whale’s “unit”. Because apparently it’s as big as several football fields. My step-dad had been watching the Discovery channel earlier that week and felt the need to share since we were on the topic. Of course none of these topics caused the bout of hysterical laughter that my sister’s final comment did. “Um…Guys? For my English assignment I’m supposed to write about what we talked about at Thanksgiving dinner. I think I might have to lie.”
I could go on and on about stories like this. Stories that build our family. When we were younger they helped build our values. They let us know we were important. It was a time where we told our parents about how our day went. We were assigned chores (how to set a table, how to clear it, how to do dishes, even how to cook) and learned responsibility. We got to dream our dreams and share them. It was time for family. And friends were always welcome.
I think back to those times and wonder who I would be if I’d never had that time. How much would it have changed who I am? And then I think of many of the kids today. So many dinner tables are left empty. Many of them don’t know what it’s like to have a family dinner except for special occassions. They’re left to fend for themselves. It’s got to be rough for many of the parents that are prevented from sharing this time because they have to work. But even more, it’s sad for those kids. As for the parents who just choose to be absent? Well, one day they’ll realize what they’re missing and want to change it. Most of the time, by then, it’s too little, too late.
When you think back to your youth…what do you remember fondly? How did it impact you as a person? Is it something that still continues today?