If there's anything I am proud of as a husband and a father, it's that we still manage to eat dinner together at the same table on most nights.
No TV trays (remember those?), no scurrying off into the front room or the bedroom. Just plunk your butts down at the dining room table and share in the food bounty.
It's a nice time.
The audience is captive, number one---and I am specifically referring to our 20-year-old daughter. Dinner time gives me at least a 15-minute window with which to work.
It's when I can get caught up on her college studies (though she is now done until Fall term), ask about her Internet life (she's addicted to Tumblr and YouTube), and various and sundry other topics.
It's rather old fashioned---my wife literally calls people to dinner. She doesn't use a metal rod and a triangle, like in the Old West, but the premise is the same.
"TIME TO EAT!!"
Which, to me, are three of the loveliest strung-together words in the English language, just ahead of its four-word cousin, "You can finish mine."
So we wash up and traipse to the dining room table. Everyone has "their" spot. No one has changed seats in years. It would be too weird.
The food is on the table, the place settings are ready to go. I say the prayer (culled from my grandfather's, though my version is a bit truncated because I can't remember all the words) and we dig in.
But it's not just the food that attracts me to dinner time, though Lord knows the vittles are always scrumptious.
It's the quiet time when we are all together, eating and talking---about each other's day, about politics (we're all Democrats so that's never a touchy subject), how cute the dog is, etc. It's not even so much about the topics---it's the idea that we're all together, talking.
Of course, after dinner, all bets are off. I might commandeer the TV for a Tigers or Red Wings game, or go into the bedroom and let the ladies have the big screen. My wife is into needlepoint now, and she and my daughter are hooked on "Supernatural" on NetFlix.
I walk the dog in the evening (usually twice) and play my tabletop sports games, like a little boy. My mother-in-law reads or works on crossword puzzles, or the jigsaw puzzle she's been whittling away at for the past year or so.
So after dinner, it's back to everyone doing their own thing. Which is fine.
On occasion we might eat dinner in the front room, or outside if it's nice, depending on the type of meal that's been prepared. And yes, sometimes we opt for that great American tradition of ordering the Italian pizza pie. Friday nights we go out or get take-out.
But mostly it's at the table, enjoying the food and, better yet, the company.