You might have noticed on my menu list that Saturday night we were having J.'s sisters and their husbands over for dinner. We do this every year to celebrate their mother's birthday. It is a nice chance to get to visit with each other without the distraction of our children and spend some time remembering their mom. We have done it different ways in different years. The first year after she died, we had dinner together and then went to a play. Since she was an actress, seeing a play seemed fitting. Other years we've gone to restaurants or one of us has hosted dinner. We offered to host this year. I decided to make meatloaf using my mother-in-law's grandmother's recipe. J. also wanted to serve pickled herring as an appetizer because he can remember his parents eating that together on the evenings when children ate early and sent upstairs to give their parents an evening together.
It is fun to set a table for only 6 people because I can take out two leaves and suddenly all my table linens fit. I decided to use a tablecloth I bought in Vietnam and thought was going to be big enough for my larger table. Since it wasn't it sits in the cupboard much of the time. I love all the blue embroidery on it... dragons in the center and fish around the edges. I also added a pair of salt and pepper shakers in the shape of peacocks... they belonged to my mother-in-law. Add some china and crystal and it looks all very grown-up.
As much as I am a proponent of having family dinners together, I also believe that sometimes adults need to do things by themselves. It is refreshing to be able to have a meal without telling someone not to touch their feet and to be able to have a conversation without interruptions. I think it is also important for children to see their parents enjoying being adults and doing grown-up things. By including children in everything, society often gives children little reason for growing up. Yes, being an adult comes with responsibilities, but it also comes with some privileges. They go hand in hand. I want my children to see the benefits of being an adult and not just the difficult parts.
So, my children eat early on nights such as this. They may briefly greet the guests, but then are ushered upstairs where, after a movie, they are tucked into bed by the in-house babysitters. They go to sleep with the sounds of adult conversation and laughter and the memory of looking forward to the day when they can join the party as well.
I have a new post up at The Homeschooling Blog.