When I set the personal goal for myself of providing my family "healthy dinners, served at the dining table, at least four nights a week", I knew I was shooting for the moon a bit.
Three nights a week would have been a lot more doable, but I decided it wasn't much of a goal if it didn't require a little sacrifice and effort. The problem is that one child has soccer practice two nights a week, year-round (seriously, People, give a lot of thought before taking the leap into "select" sports), this fall even the little one will have soccer one evening a week, and the eldest child (whose impending departure started this whole thing) insists on having a social life. What that means is that Monday and Wednesday nights are tricky because of Son #2's soccer practices and Friday and Saturday nights are almost guaranteed to be missing Son #1, and heaven knows where Darling Daughter's soccer practices will plug in this September. I am no math whiz but last I heard there are 7 days in a week, and I just listed off 4 nights that will pose significant challenges to my family-meals-at-the-dining-table goal. 7 nights - 4 nights = 3 nights. Oops.
Ahh well...it's still a noble goal. Just one that may have to require some flexibility.
- I must not be swayed by absent family members in my pursuit of the family dinner. Even if one family member cannot be present, that does not mean that the rest of us can't sit down around the table and enjoy a meal. Plus, that provides the perfect opportunity for the remaining family members to talk about whomever is missing and blame anything and everything on him. One must always look for the silver lining.
- Every family meal does not need to have a perfectly set table, flowers at the center, lighted candles and carefully laid out family-style dishes. It will be okay if sometimes our family meal is bit more haphazard. Besides, we are a haphazard people in this clan of mine so it's really only speaking to our basic nature.
- And finally, even the most casually prepared meals (read: take-out pizza) can be served and consumed at the dining table without needing to alert the media. Last time I checked, we are not on a reality show with cameras following our every move so I don't think we will end up on the cover of the tabloids if we opt for take-out, served at the dining table and chalk it up to to a family dinner.
In fact, as I write this post during the dawn of Wednesday morning I am realizing that tonight Jack will be away at a friend's lake cabin, Tim has soccer and Annie has a birthday party to go to that will run until 5:30pm (and is likely to come home stuffed and amped on sugar).
How many family members are required to get credit as a family dinner? Can we go with the great Biblical promise of where two or more are gathered...?
I don't know, but right now I'm thinking that a single place setting, just for me, with a glass of wine on my right and a good book propped up on my left is sounding pretty darn good.
I am nothing if not flexible.