Friday, June 5, 2009

More SOOJ

Tonight I've been reading Elizabeth Berg's new book. I've been laughing out loud and my fingers have been twitching to grab a pencil. At one point the narrator said she'd try to write a stream of consciousness list. My fingers began to do more than twitch. They were tingling. Time to write. So, I closed my eyes, opened the book to a page in the middle, pointed, and opened my eyes. The word was "taste". What follows is what I wrote.

Taste...

Taste. Even now I can taste that loaf of bread in Colonial Williamsburg, still warm, passing from the baker's hands to my fathers, from his to mine... the taste of it with that odd soft, pale yellow cheese... how both made a perfect mouthful... the exultant feeling that this was dinner... how odd... how wonderful... how exquisite that we were, all four of us, having an adventure. That all four of us were on this adventure together, instead of having the separate ones we usually had as we went off to school, to work, to... what kind of adventures did Mom have being at home all day? I think I assumed that she just sat around bored, waiting for me to get home from my own adventures, so that she could hear all about them and start living again... of course, that's what she lived for - me... and tangentially my brother and father. Oh, the arrogance of children.

Back to taste... That meal of bread and cheese, one of the most perfect meals in a lifetime of eating. Simple bread and cheese. You know? I can still taste it. Was it so delicious because we touched the hands that prepared it? Or because we ate it standing up, walking around, looking at things from such a long time ago? Or, was it so delicious because it was so out of the ordinary?

Normally we were a family who sat down together at 5:30 for dinner. If the phone rang, Dad would answer it and inform the caller that it was dinner time and that was family time. Back then, family dinner seemed so normal. Now, I realize what a gift it was.

I had a family that sat together, ate together, talked together, enjoyed a meal together. Every night. Every single night, with very few exceptions. How marvelous is that? Family dinnertime. Something so commonplace. And, anymore, profound. If Dad had a meeting that evening, he would make the long drive back home in time for dinner, and turn right around and head back to church; to work. Neither Mom or Dad ever said it, but family dinnertime was sacred.

Family meals. That's a bit of the precious ordinary. Isn't it? Mom cooks the meal, one child sets the table, the other cleans up after. Family of four sits down together, holds hands, blesses the food... Eats, talks, shares, is just... together. I guess that's it. That's what makes it so profound. We were together. Not only in the same place physically, but in the same place mentally. No one was rushing to get to a ballgame, or practice, or work. No one had a TV show they didn't want to miss. No one was shut off from the family with music playing only for their ears. We were all together. Together.

Oh, what precious ordinary.



The photograph of Colonial Williamburg was taken by Foto Blitz Color. It is a scene very much like ones that I remember from our walk in Colonial Williamsburg. SOOJ is a term I came up with. It means, straight out of the journal. I keep a paper journal - have for years. SOOJ posts are unedited reprints of a journal entry.

35 comments:

bermudabluez said...

I, too, had that same type of upbringing....family time was sacred...dinner time was sacred. It is not that way anymore. That's probably what's wrong with the world....they need to get TOGETHER more!! Beautiful post, Relyn!

Joanne said...

Those were the days, weren't they? My family does sit together most nights for dinner, but it's not too common, for sure. I guess I don't really understand why so many families don't want this, don't strive for this, don't give up a lesson or sport for this.

Laura said...

Beautiful.

Unworthy said...

Way to make me feel completely non-poetic in every way. There's no way to match that.

Char said...

beautiful, beautiful memories

Southern Drawl said...

I was there too! Exquisite post!
I love the statement about mom waiting on you to begin her day again...too funny. "Precious ordinary" you have such a wonderful gift for marrying words together... :)

Cam@Journey Wildly said...

It sounds so very deliciously Mayberry. I want to live there, too!

~ ennui ~ said...

oh' I long for that.. my daughter is 16 and is rarely home.

Jessica said...

Family meals are (of course!) one of my passions. A week without one is a terrible, terrible week.

beth said...

our family was together every night for dinner, too...without question !

and now, it's such a miracle when we are all in the same place at the same time and food is involved...

and my dad was the same way...with no caller ID, he would answer the phone {as he owned his own business and always thought he needed to make sure everyone was ok, what a guy} but then would proceed with the same thing..".we're eating, I'll call you back later!!"

Tabitha in Bliss said...

In my home growing up we did not have family dinner together. If I ate by my Grandma's on the weekend I may luck up and get to eat with a few cousins. In my home now family dinner is a MUST. I crave it and I'm deeply grateful that hubby and daughter enjoy it as well.

Ragamuffin Gal said...

Hi Babe ~
You were and are so blessed. Thanks for your heart warming post today. I loved every minute of reading it, I think I will go back and read it again. Love you, Katie

SE'LAH... said...

glad you listened to your twitching fingers...this is an awesome post.

bread and cheese...yum. i remember those days. fresh bread every saturday from the baker, mostly grandmother. how i'll never forget. thanks for the reminder.

one love.

Derrick said...

Hi Relyn,

Many families were able to enjoy dining together and it was certainly part of my childhood but the world today is very different.

Mothers and Fathers both work, their hours patterns are different, some have to travel a lot. Kids have a million and one "things" to occupy their time and it's so much easier to let them eat when they wish, before they rush off or when they come back. And we've become too used to pleasing our own dietry likes and dislikes where half the famly doesn't want what the other is having.

Yes, the world is a very different place!

paris parfait said...

What a lovely post. We had dinner early too - I think it was 6 p.m. Yes, what we once took for granted as children became a different reality as adults. I do appreciate Elisabeth Berg's writing.

Jaime said...

I don't think I realised until right now, how good it was when I was a kid, to have dinners together as a family.
Although, I also remember nights when my brother and I refused to eat our brussels sprouts and had to sit at the table for HOURS until we forced the cold things down. Or until my brother found an empty pocket to hide them in! ;)

But when we were teenagers, we all still had dinner together almost every night, and for that, I am so grateful. Thank you Relyn!

Alicia @ boylerpf said...

Such a precious time...togetherness with family. We had seven and every night was exactly the same as yours. I can still hear the laughter, the calm discussions...the whole scene is one I will never forget and have instilled the same in our children. It is precious and an uncommon one in today's times. Love the post, Relyn...thank you.

Patti said...

Just beautiful Relyn! Oh how much we took for granted never knowing what a special commodity it would end up being. My dad was a principal and would get home from school around 4:30 and dinner would be on the table for the 4 of us at 5:00 and we HAD to be there- cutting into my precious play time or phone fests. I always wished we were the family that ate around 6:00-6:30 like all the "cool kids". Now that I am in charge (?) I still gravitate to the 5:00 time and do try to have all 3 of us sit down together. Dining as a family...who would have thought that would become a "lost art?"

elk said...

around the table at dinner has always been a goal...your post was so intriguing...would you reccomend the book?

Christina said...

Yes, we ate dinner together every night also. It is a passion I must say, that lives within me today. We sit together every night. No cell phones, tv, or internet. We have beautiful simple meals. Yum, bread and cheese.
xo

Suvarna said...

Oh so true, I grew up in much the same way. It is challenging these days, to say the least, but such a worthwhile a gift to our children that will last them a lifetime.
xo
S

Ms. K @ Write On Thyme said...

Another lovely post, Relyn! Love the whole thing and especially the "precious ordinary" phrase at the end. How beautiful that you are sharing your journal entries.
Thank you!
Kirsten

anna said...

I love the idea and the magic of the precious ordinary. My prayer this morning is that I may able to create precious ordinary in deeper ways for my family.

I love your inspiration! Thank You!

spread your wings said...

oh i love this post and relate to it so well. my family always had dinner together as well and like you said one child had the table setting duty and the others cleanup (i'm one of 3) - i'm so thankful we had that. it's sad to me to think of a family doing otherwise but lives these days are just so hectic.
my dad bakes sourdough bread every week and to this day if i go over there when it's coming out of the oven there is nothing better than the taste of that bread.

Susan Tuttle said...

Mmmmmmm -- bread + cheese = taste of heaven

so simple, but so delicious!! i know exactly what you mean:)

A Cuban In London said...

Beautiful and well-crafted post. I, too, smiled with gusto at your description of taste. Many thanks.

Greetings from London.

Melinda said...

I, too, grew up with family dinners. Now, with 3 children, family dinners are STILL a must! We have NEVER eaten in the living room, on the couch, in front of the TV....NEVER! I was telling someone just the other day that despite our craziness having just moved, the one thing that is still constant is our family dinner. I wouldn't trade it for the world!

vchelle said...

Family meals are so important. My husband always focus on us sitting down to eat as a family. We taste the food better and we appreciate it more! Visiting from Soul Aperture and have seen you around blogsphere and wanted to stop in to say hi with a big smile!

Elizabeth said...

oh! she's the "a year of pleasures" author, isn't she? I just loved that book - and would be excited to find a new one by her.

we had family dinners too .. I remember them fondly.

studio wellspring said...

what precious ordinary indeed! so much love to you & your family dear one....

Lori said...

Beautiful memories. I love Elizabeth Berg!

Spudballo said...

You write so beautifully, and make the 'ordinary' seem very extraordinary. I had this kind of upbringing, but I'm not sure I'll manage to preserve this for my boys (2 and 3). Already their lives seem so full and busy, I imagine it will be a weekend only tradition....a great pity. What's that expression? Those that eat together stay together...

mademoisellechitchat said...

Relyn:

I am really touched by this SOOJ. I wonder how much better the American family would be if we returned to family meal time.

susanna said...

This is such a well written post, Relyn. I enjoy reading about the culinary experiences of others. I like how your dad was set on Family Dinner each night. It shows that he was able to separate (and elevate) family time from everything, everyone else. Love.

And eating fresh bread straight out of the oven is one of Life's best pleasures, isn't it?

My Castle in Spain said...

You write so beautifully Relyn! it really brought a smile to my face to read this post although sadly i can't say dinners at home were that harmonious...
I really love this feeling of warmth in your family. It's beautiful!
Thank you so much for sharing...
:-)

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