Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Question of the Day #778

When my mother and stepfather got married, my biological brother, stepsister and stepbrother and I united under one roof to spend the summer together. We weren't exactly The Brady Bunch.

N made the walls shake with his heavy metal. C partied on, thinking nothing of barreling up the stairs at 3:00 AM and waking everyone. I complained, loudly, about my stepfather waking us at the crack of dawn, making us do chores. And H stood on her soapbox and preached about saving the Earth, way before that was cool.

My stepfamily took the "function" out of dysfunction.

Then The Parents decided to add a new rule to our war zone. Everyone had to be home for dinner at 6:30 on Sunday nights. Or else.

During the first dinner, the silence was so loud that my mother cried. The second dinner brought more tears after heated debate over the questionable morality of meat eaters. But the third dinner brought a sort of solidarity between step-siblings, when we discovered that we could make my mother cry. And maybe, just maybe if we did that enough, she'd call off the stupid dinners.

We underestimated her stamina.

And after a few weeks, we got used to the Sunday Night Dinners. Slowly, we began to talk to each other. We got to know each other and eventually began to like each other. Years later, we look forward to the opportunity to gather around a table together and we appreciate the tradition.

What tradition does your family uphold?



  1. My family still pulls names for Christmas gifts. I come from a family of 10 kids. We also had my great grandma and great grandpa living with us. And my uncle and a cousin. At our peak, that was 16 regulars living there and occasionally my aunt and my two cousins would stay for a couple weeks at a time. Point being, there were lots of people to buy Christmas gifts for.

    Anyway, when I was little it was decided that instead of having to buy everyone gifts, we'd pull names from a hat and only have to buy for those two people. That's a great idea for when we were kids and really it was mom and dad paying for the gifts we were buying. But we never gave up that idea of pulling names. The youngest is now 29. We have nieces and nephews and grandkids now but they get their names put in the hat and everyone still only buys two gifts.

    Out of principle my wife refuses to go along with this and has always bought everyone a gift which then causes all sorts of anxiety with my sisters who feel obligated to buy something in return.

    Personally I still find it all very entertaining.

  2. Your mother is impressive! My mom was a single mom, working two jobs, and often left my sis and I to fend for ourselves, so my "family tradition" might be to never have less than five boxes of Mac and Cheese in the pantry at any given time. But since my stepdaughter moved in, my husband and I enforce the "eat dinner as a family at the dinner table not on the couch" rule with few when Supernatural or Vampire Diaries is on. Then my stepdaughter and I eat in front of the TV - no reason my husband has to see all that drool :-0

  3. Just makes me want to throw my arms around E and give her a big ol' hug!

    My family? Too dysfunctional for tradition.

    My family now? Oh so many but I love our nightly prayers. We include what we are thankful for every night. Listening to my youngest, age 2, try to participate makes my heart feel like it'll burst with love.

  4. Christmas Eve Midnight Mass with the family then a "fry" aka an irish breakfast back at the house.

    But, really... I remember the hollywood version of the sunday night dinner tradition. great food with wild weekly updates from a revolving cast of characters.

    Garlic anyone?!

  5. What a great idea! I think these family traditions are what Christmas is all's important to have that one solid thing to count on. I know how tough it is blending families. I grew up in a blended family and I have a stepdaughter now. It's all very tricky!

  6. Wow, that's really heavy, Suzanne. I'm glad to hear you worked your way through it. :)

  7. I come from a strong tradition of family dinners around the table. And even when my sons were at their most rebellious stage and I could only afford hotdogs and salad for dinner, I lit the candles and we ate together (often accompanied by mumbling and grumbling) at the table. And this Christmas both my sons, their families and I will gather around the same table we all sat around when we were children . . . a former paint-spattered Victorian table that my mother found in the top of a barn in New England and bought for $3.00 . . . and that opens on wooden tracks to seat 12 people.

  8. Your mother and step father were smart parents; so glad you all got to know and accept each other.

  9. That is so cool--aren't you glad they held their ground?

  10. Sunday night dinners with the family always and with friends who become family. I really appreciate that simple act of bonding.

  11. Miss those Sunday night dinners.
    Sometimes :)
    Love the ones we have now.


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