The Dinner Magnet

I love our family get togethers. I love spending the holidays together. I love that we can find excuses on the weekends to gather, cook, and sit around the table. Mom, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt 1, Aunt 2, Me, and my Kids 1, 2, and 3. (And no, I don’t use my kid’s names online for the world to view. Internet safety.) For Mother’s Day, Grandpa took us out for mexican on Saturday evening. And Dad grilled burgers Sunday evening. Moms in our family got to eat and celebrate two nights in a row! Major bonus points, guys! There need not be a birthday, holiday, or anything else that brings us together. We naturally come together as if our family had a magnetic field that could only stay apart for just so long before we all come crashing toward each other. Hmmm…yet another thought process of mine…

So, what do we do that is so magnetizing that we do it again, and again, and again?

We eat.

We chat.

We cook.

We gather around the dinner/picnic table.

We talk about recipes, current events, and non-essential happenings.

We share updates on how long distance family is doing.

And then it magically happens.

We start talking about the family business.

The business I am referring to has nothing to do with a retail store or industry that’s been in our family. Instead I’m referring to the “stories” of the days gone by. I learn about relatives that lived BEFORE me. My kids learn about the relatives that they were too young to remember that are no longer with us. We learn about the careers, jokes, pranks, triumphs, tragedies, and all out funny things that Great, Great, Grandma did that would otherwise be lost to our remaining and future generations.

Here’s a prime example:
Tonight I learned about meat curing. My Great Grandfather was a butcher who ran his own shop. My Grandfather and my dad helped in his store. So, I know that my Grandfather has part of the tip of his finger missing from working in that shop. But, I also know a little more about how meat is cured, preserved, tenderized, and packaged. Is it necessarily important? Not really. What is important to me is that my children and I know as much about him as possible. He is not around any longer. Years before I was born he was killed when he crossed at a rail road crossing and didn’t hear the train coming. If not for the conversations, I would know nothing or very little about my Great Grandfather.

More important than that, we got to hear some REALLY funny stories about my dad and his dad at the butcher shop. All of this led to other conversations about many family members from the days gone by that I don’t know. These are stories that I couldn’t tell my kids, because they all happened BEFORE me! And during the snowball conversation about the family and the collections of funny and memorable stories, I end up learning about dairy cows.

I know you have to be thinking, “So, what about dairy cows?” Well, I thought dairy cows produced milk ALL the time. I didn’t know they had to have a calf to produce milk and that it was a temporary state resulting from a pregnancy. I thought the term, “dairy cow” meant that they just freely produced milk from birth to death. “Hello, my name is Christine, and I am an airhead.” (No, I was raised in the country/then city, but never near cows or on a farm. So, how would I know?)

I got to be the entertainment at dinner. Everyone laughed over that. And no matter how sad it is that I thought dairy cows produced milk just ’cause they are dairy cows and that’s all dairy cows do (right???), we now have another memory to laugh about. Oh, and trust me….this story will go for many, many generations. It was really funny. I think the laughter we shared at the dinner table along with the stories about traditions of long ago, the family that some never knew, the funny things that granny did (our Grandma did THAT?!), is magnetic.

It’s a magnetic bond between people that just can’t be forgotten. We are a family. And we don’t stick together like glue. It’s more than glue. We stick together because there is something common that we share. There is something common that we all bring to the mix. There is a common interest. There is a common laughter. A common mix of memories. A common knowledge. There is something in all of that that draws us together.

If we didn’t share the knowledge about family history, the tales, and the stories, they would be lost. And with each passing generation, they would be harder to recover and eventually gone forever. But not with us. Each time we have an “excuse” to gather and cook out (or cook in-in the winter), we keep the family heritage alive.

It was today on Mother’s Day, I realized that the most amazing Mother’s Day gift I have ever received are those family stories. Even better than most amazing is the fact that it doesn’t stop with me. These old stories (and the new…the cows) will live on through my children. As I sat this Mother’s Day and again listened to the same stories that never grow old or that never lose their humorous impact, and as I heard new ones, I thought about the best gift a mom could have. I already have it. I have a dinner magnet. My hopes are that there will be a family dinner magnet for generations to come. I hope that it draws them near.

Most memorable stories:

Great Grandma falling through the out-house, a tow truck being called to lift her out, and no one wanting to sit next to her on the ride home. (I’m kind of glad I missed that!)

Great Grandma sleeping sitting in chair and grand kids wanting to know how her mouth could be open but her teeth closed (And we wonder why kiddos have nightmares???).

Mom walking through park with big banana spider falling out of tree on her head.

Aunt trying to get way from spider wheeling herself across lawn with one leg.

Other Aunt trying to aerate her lawn with spike shoe attachments that just sink into the soil and not being able to get them out of the ground therefore “sticking” to her lawn. (I told them to call me next time so I can run over with my flip camera! I’ll post on Youtube!)

Dad riding his motorcycle back in college through a cloud that turned out to be a swarm of bees.

The terantulas in Texas when I grew up there…lots of spider stories.

And this is just one side of the family….

They go on, and on, and on and on!!!


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