Last night, we revived a habit we had long ago, sometimes frequently, sometimes sporadically… it has had different names, for the time being I will choose to call it… Adventure Night. In its’ current incarnation, Melinda is the originator. In the summer of 2002, she said, let’s have a FAmily Dinner NIght on Thursdays. We’ll make a different sort of dinner, and we’ll all do it together, and if friends are over they get invited but we wont go out of our way to make it public… something like that. We were all into pasta then, so it usually included a kitchen and dining room full of air drying homemade pasta. Sometimes there was a movie attached to it, sometimes a walk around the neighborhood. The following summer was a hard time and Family Dinner Night was revived almost every night… we got thru that time by doing something out of the ordinary almost every night. We planned our evening together, and maybe it gave us a sense of having some control in life…
I wrote in its’ current incarnation Melinda was the originator, but it had some of its’ roots in my childhood. MY parents had vocabulary night at the dinner table… we would work our way through the book 30 DAys to a more powerful vocabulary. MY dad with the help of the book gave us the history and roots of word lists. There was the art history period… my mom borrowed slide series on various Masters of Art. Picnic ala easy… my Dad ran his CPA practice from our home, so he would go to KFC, get some food, and we would go pick up my mom from work and we would have a picnic at a local park.
A couple weeks ago we girls watched The Blind Side and we were moved to thinking pure and noble thoughts (Philippians 4:8). This reminded me that i will resort t5o using film as a lesson builder. I, from time to time, insist the girls watch Joy Luck Club. IT is an uncanny representation of the family interactions of Asian women. You would hardly think that my Asian heritage was a powerful mover and shaker in my life, yet watch that movie and you would think that i had been raised in Chinatown.
So the plan is we will have a Japanese dinner, not a generic Asian dinner, rather Japanese and watch the movie. When my father, Irish Texan that he was, turned 60, we threw him a Japanese birthday celebration. MY aunts in Hawaii, his sisters-in-law, and their children made him 1001 origami cranes, a symbol of a successful and prosperous life. MY friend Peggy and I prepared sukiyaki.
Last night, Mary was in charge of the sukiyaki. Hannah the sushi.
We only had the nori (seaweed) and the Japanese short grain rice… so the sushi was decidedly Hannah style. Seasoned rice wrapped in the nori, with the aid of a bamboo mat, and sliced. That’s all Hannah needs.. serve some wasabi and pickled ginger on the side with the cute little Kikkoman’s soy bottle… good to go.
Katherine was filling in the gaps wherever she was needed, setting up the skillet, getting ingredients down for pint sized Hannah, etc. Katie-Belle has this gift of making sure things happen.
Mary masterfully prepared the sukiyaki. Sukiyaki is a communal meal prepared at the table first frying the beef strips, then cooking the vegetables and rice noodles in the broth in the electric skillet at the table. The guests are presented with the labour of the chef’s love… a gorgeous family platter (ours a gift from a Japanese family long ago) upon which was a “rosebud” of sliced beef, surrounded by the artfully carved and sliced mushrooms, Chinese cabbage, noodles, and tofu.
The meal was more beautiful than i had ever remembered. My mother repeatedly said how special the meal was to her, taking her back years. Mary took the heart, the essence of art of the preparation and infused it with tradition and love. Her sisters were impressed. I had not expected that. I thought they would dutifully get through “the tradition” picking and choosing what parts they would try. I was so proud of them, diving into the adventure, asking questions about the preparation, trying tiny bites of new foods.(their grandfather would have been so proud.)
I enjoyed all of this from afar (the couch.) I had had a severe nausea and vomiting attack. We never did watch the movie. I fell asleep finally from exhaustion after the nausea subsided and i was able to keep some gravol down. The girls ended up watching a Twilight marathon… amidst the necessary tension of a film
student graduate and some serious Twilight fans.
I woke in the middle of the night. I drifted back to sleep with peace… they could teach other… could look after each other.
I read this quote over at the Happiness Project website…. no, this is not my new guru … but there are some remarkable truths over there… anyhoo… the quote that is sticking with me this morning..
“Accepting oneself does not preclude an attempt to become better.”
– Letters of Flannery O’Connor
Things that are true make you feel better, don’t they? We don’t always agree on the things that are true… but i am guessing most of us can agree on that one.
My challenge for you… find a really great quote that you venture we could, most of us, agree upon, and then share it. It will make you feel good, satisfied.