I believe we are in desperate times, people. And desperate times call for desperate measures. And so it is with great verve and energy that I issue a battle cry for action.
It is time we took back what is rightfully ours, families of the world. It is time we re-claimed our rights to that all-important evening hour -- a time once known as supper, which held the power in its reach to gather together people from diverse activities and places and in so doing, press the pause button on whatever other all-important, pressing concerns might have been going on at the time.
It's time we got our supper hour back, good families. We need to come home.
Now I don't know about you, but I am not issuing this campaign because I am a glutton for punishment. I am no fool. Supper hour is not fun. Seriously. There are fights which break out. Food is smashed underneath chair legs. Peas get stuck on already filthy socks. And there's the whining. My children whine and complain about almost every food choice I offer them that doesn't look like it just fell out of a McDonald's Happy Meal. And so of course, I get indigestion. Yadda yadda yadda.
The list goes on. And yes, I realize that there are many, many other variables at play here, too. And to add further fuel to the fire, I also realize that supper hour is also known as witching hour in some households with children under the age of five.
To be certain, there are parents who would rather hold their head over a whirling toilet bowl full of who-knows-what than try to make their sanity last through the first shout out to "gimme the ketchup...and NOW." I know. I am that mom. But still. I feel deep inside the recesses of my stone, cold heart a calling back of sorts. And it is an ache, really, for a simpler world. One in which the family all gathers round the sprawling table for an evening spread. Easy banter. Smiling faces. The chink of silverware as it hits the plate. Gulps of milk to wash it all down.
Where did these sounds all but disappear, my dear Martha (Stewart)? Where did it all go, Good Housekeeping magazine? Have we lost them entirely, dear mother?
So to give a recent example, let's talk about last night. The girls and I arrived home to the smells of spicy sausages. Call me absolutely crazy ( I know), but the last couple of days this week I have forgone my lunch break so as to slip home and throw some meat into the slow-cooker. One day, it was some steaks. Another day, I smothered two different varieties sausage with sweet and spicy hot sauce and a little more of this and that. And I threw the cover on before heading back to work at my day job.
At about 4:45 p.m., on the day of which I am speaking, the two youngest and I arrived home to the smells of supper. And I felt this internal release as if I was a wind-up toy and the key had finally been removed. I was home. It was supper. Let the games begin.
You might be asking. Where was the other half of the good ol' fam-damily, pray tell? Hmmm? Er...yeah. Well, one child was at gymnastics. And two others were at hockey. And what time was this again? You got it: 5:00 until 6:00.
So, I know. This is our life. (Let's be honest: this is MOST of our lives) We are as a people often on the road. In a rink. At a meeting. In a club. At school. In a bus. Who knows where we are, but we're not at the table, that's for sure. We're anywhere but home. Yup. That's me: Guilty as charged. I am writing this one for ME.
People, I need me some good, old-fashioned suppertime charm.
So here's what really happened that particular night. While we waited for the other half of the family to return home, the girls and I ate our supper. And the plan was that the other three would eat when they arrived home at 6:00 p.m.. But again, there was this knowing feeling inside me that I just couldn't shake: is this what I want to do with my life? Is this the way supper was meant to be? Is there any chance that supper hour can be taken back and reclaimed as lost territory?
So here's what happened next. I had to leave at 5:45 p.m. to pick up the one who was at gymnastics, and when I got home husband mistakenly thought we all hadn't eaten and had the table set for 6
(He's a "dreamer, nothin' but a dreamer...").
And that's when the thought crossed my mind: we CAN do this. We CAN have "something" together. It doesn't have to be supper to make this work. So I thought fast and came up with the perfect plan. Hot chocolate. We could all have hot chocolate together. And isn't that just the perfect replacement anyway for the evening meal?
Let. Them. Eat. Chocolate.
And okay, maybe a few marshmallows.
Works like a charm. Every single time.
And while there really is no substitute for that all-important evening meal, hot chocolate works in a pinch. And it's really all about the gathering anyway, is it not?
At least that's the view from here.