Sunday, April 27, 2008

Family Dinner

While writing THE VIOLIN, I used many of the traditions and activities from daily life with my family. Familial dinners in THE VIOLIN were a place of family communication, news exchange and happy conversation. It was easy to write these scenes because this sort of activity was a daily occurrence all the years I spent growing up at home.
Since we had no television because my dad thought it was a deleterious invention that stole our creativity and resourcefulness, dinner time became a major entertainment for us. Long after dinner was finished and the main course was cold, we would talk on and on. It was a chance to tell our parents what was happening in our lives and get them to help us solve problems we were confronting.
Occasionally, it was lecture time like the time my sister wrecked the family car and the time I went on a date with a boy I knew my dad disapproved of.
We found out things about the world and the universe. We talked politics, religion, etiquette, what color we wanted to paint our rooms--everything and anything.
When I married my high school sweetheart and moved to Texas, I asked my parents to record dinner conversations to keep me from being homesick. I have to laugh here because we used reel to reel tape recorders. I don't even know if anything like that exists anymore. The sound and speed weren't always consistent but that didn't matter to me.
Now, long after my parents have died and my sisters and I have moved away from home, I still have those tapes. A couple of them have been recorded on Cd's.
So I wonder, do families still have conversations around the dinner table? Do parents learn what their children are doing and what problems are coming up for them? Do children ask their parents about the things they wonder about or fear? Do families play board games or cards as an after dinner entertainment?
What are family dinners like at your house? How would you like them to be? What would you change about dinnertime? Do you have great mealtimes at your house? What makes them great?
I'm ready to listen to your views and your memories on dinner time conversations where you live.
All good things to you and yours in your corner of the universe.
Sarah McNeal

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