Weekend meal time examined…

So, I’m always kind of thinking about meal-time in one way or another.  Are we out of (fill in the blank)?  Did I remember to lay the chicken out to defrost?  If I Twitter for another 20 minutes, will I still have dinner ready when my husband gets home from work?

The weekends are usually a nice change from some of that.  Sometimes, we are out of town and meals are not my responsibility.  Sometimes, we have company or meet up with friends and go out to eat.  And sometimes, like this weekend, we do a nice job of taking advantage of convenience items while still maintaining high quality family time – the best of both worlds!

Yesterday my in-laws came for the day.  They live about 2 hours away and, since they are retired, can pretty much visit their grandson whenever the mood strikes.  They arrived just before lunch with brown paper sacks full of honest-to-goodness Texas BBQ.  We whipped up a quick sauce and some sweet tea, warmed up some corn and beans and lunch was had on the patio while we caught up and they basked in the presence of our three-year-old.  My mother-in-law had even brought a homemade chocolate cake to go with the necessary afternoon coffee…yum!

The conversation was simple and easy.  No new ideas on world peace or advances in stem cell research (although we did discuss AIG and the auto industry briefly!)  We talked about plans to rent beach houses for a weekend in May, got updated on mutual friends and family, discussed the progress with potty training and other mundane things which make up our lives.  But our presence there together created a container of sorts…one that certainly morphs and evolves from day-to-day…but it is the container of community, our family, our tribe of people.  And I’m not unaware that this container we build day-in and day-out creates a sense of belonging and safety for our son and for ourselves.  Sure, it might have looked like ribs and brisket were the objects of our attention…but they were just the centerpiece for something much more significant.

Many hours of lazy Saturday nothingness later, it was an almost-repeat-performance for dinner.  My husband ran to the store and grabbed some roasted chickens and potato salad.  We heated up some green beans and refreshed everyone’s tea…out on the patio again for a delightful finish to the day.  Best of all, our son decided to introduce us to his vast story-telling skills (something we suspected he had, but had not witnessed in full just yet.)

The four of us sat at rapt attention while he talked of trains and owls and the North Pole for nearly 20 minutes.  (Luckily, we even managed to sneak some video before he caught us.)  We were amazed and entertained.  Watching them watch him, I’ll admit, I got a little misty-eyed (no suprise to those of you who know I’m about half-way through this pregnancy – a sappy commercial can make me weepy!)  But, it was a little more than that.  It’s the reason we are here.  We moved from our beloved, gray Seattle…all the way to shiny, South Texas just to be near family…just to be able to sit around a table together on a random Saturday afternoon and listen to made-up stories about coyotes and steam engines with people who care the most.

I hope what I will remember is that it doesn’t have to be hard – I don’t have to be June Cleaver…the rolls don’t have to be from scratch and the chicken can come from the deli*…what is important is being around the table together.

*I really do prefer the home-cooked version of the roasted chicken because there is so, so much sodium injected into those store-bought ones…however, they are delicious and once in while won’t hurt too much, right?  More about the delights of oven-roasted chicken coming soon!

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