Table Talk

What will you talk about around the table tomorrow?  Politics, religion, people, emotions, the minutiae of your daily life?  Do you talk about ideas with your family or do you avoid certain subjects because of differing opinions?  Do you stick to sports or music or family history?  Do you feel that honesty is the best part of conversation or that getting along is more important?  Do you provide conversation starters or verbal games to focus your group?

When my kids were in high school, I would often try to prime the pump at family gatherings to get them to talk about their values.  I knew their personalities were forming and changing rapidly, and I think I was a bit terrified that I didn’t know them at all.  I would have everyone list things they were thankful for on Thanksgiving and share favorite memories at birthdays.  I even had a book of conversation starters that I set on the table.  I admit that I was also keen on steering them away from pop culture references that they all shared that left out my husband and me.  How many times can you listen to the dialogue to “Anchor Man” at the dinner table before you lose brain cells?

I grew up in a family that talked about many subjects at the table.  An entire wall of reference books stood behind the dining room table.  My father would nip quarreling in the bud by saying, “It’s no use arguing about facts.”  Then he’d look up whatever piece of information was in dispute.  This was before you could Google everything in seconds.  I don’t remember feeling very comfortable talking about my opinions, though.  My father was a very strong authoritarian with a definition of “right” and “wrong” for everything.  I feared his disappointment and his wrath, and I didn’t feel smart enough to legitimize any of my own thoughts.  I would let my older sister or my younger brother engage in differences of opinion while I listened.  I would also look for an opportunity to tell an amusing story and make everyone laugh.  I just wanted to be liked.

Ideas are important.  We live in interesting times.  Values are important, emotions are important, knowing who your children are is important, appreciating your loved ones is important, challenge is important, peace is important, connecting is important.  I usually put in a lot of effort in the kitchen before a holiday meal, and I suppose the payoff is having people be willing to sit down together for a couple of hours minimum.  I’m really glad my kids are all in their 20s now so that is not too much to expect.  But I won’t see them until Friday.  Tomorrow, I’ll have Steve’s family at my table.  I am looking forward to getting to know them better.  I’m hoping we’ll share ideas and opinions and sharpen each other as well as appreciate and love on each other.  I also hope that I will be able to speak honestly about myself and let them get to know me.  And I’ll probably try to make them all laugh.  I can’t help it; I do that.

Ready so far: pecan pie and cranberry-orange relish. More to come.

2 thoughts on “Table Talk

  1. I remember those types of conversations when we were finally old enough to be at the “adult” table. But my grandfather was more like you than your dad in that he steered the conversation away from controversial topics and we focused on what we were thankful for. Little did I know then that I should have been more thankful for having 30 family members around all day. Now my gathering is much more cozy ~ 2300 miles away from the big family and celebrating with my kids. Still, I’m sure we’ll have a grand affair, talking about home and just focusing all that we have!
    We are having dinner in lieu of lunch because I will be volunteering at a homeless shelter til 3. So I’ve got to hightail it back to the kitchen and finish prepping. But I love your post!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s