Tuesday, March 19, 2013

a tradition

Family Dinners

I don’t know how to begin this entry, but I want to give you the background of this {revived} tradition in my family….so here we go. 

{the inspiration}
Last year was an extremely hard year for the Hebert family. My family experienced a traumatic loss of a cousin, Joseph, in December 2012. The truth is 2013 isn’t proving to be any easier without him. Anyone who knows the Hebert family will be able to tell you this is a very special family. Joseph was a vital part of this family and it is an overwhelming challenge to understand how the Heberts move forward now. I think I can safely say that Joe loved his family more than anything in the world, his hugs alone were proof.  

I think when a family experiences a loss like ours has, it sends a shock to your system. It leaves you craving more time with your loved ones, or regretting being “too busy” last time they invited you somewhere. I think we have all promised to not let this happen anymore. We know we can’t realistically all get together every weekend but we do need to get together more than just Thanksgiving and Christmas, so we {the family} decided on a monthly dinner.

{the family}
The Heberts begin with Granny and Grandad and their children and spouses, then on to the grandchildren {the cousins}. As the family has grown up, it has expanded adding members by marriage, relationships, friends who have quickly earned the title “family”, and now one great-grandbaby. This is what I mean when I say “family” dinner…it is so much more than the traditional use of the word family.

{the location}
The cousins grew up in a very tight-knit family spending weekends {or even weeks} at Granny’s house playing in the large yard, building forts in the woods behind the house, even learning to ride their bikes there. It is only natural for our family traditions to still take place at Granny & Grandad’s. Their home is not huge but we manage to fit as many as 30 people in their dining room and living room area.

{the meals}
Once a month we meet at Granny and Grandad’s for a family dinner. It’s a come-if-you-can, no pressure event. Everyone brings something to contribute to the chosen theme for that month. I have tasked myself with being the organizer. I email everyone the date and theme and they reply to all with what they are bringing. I keep a running list and eventually reply-to-all with the menu. This allows everyone the chance to see if we are missing anything and remind them of what they signed up to bring. The day of the family dinner, we all show up with our cooked food and begin the potluck!

{the themes}
I’m a fan of themes or for organized parties in general. My family puts up with my silly themes but I think they keep us organized and help with menu ideas. Starting in January of this year we began choosing themes and planning the menu based on the chosen theme for the month.

January was Mexican food. We had four birthday’s to celebrate too!

February was Chinese food (for Chinese New Year) – one birthday in Feb, but we had to send her a care package cause she lives out of state!

March was Baked Potatoes and all the fixins – two birthdays in March! 

April is planned and will be a barbecue. This is risky because of the weather but we are doing it because we are all eager for summer!

Yes, if you're wondering I already have the themes/ideas for May and June, but I am sparing my wonderful family too many emails in their inbox from me. {I don't want to end up on their blocked lists!}

Now it should be said that the Heberts are all very good cooks, so potlucks are the obvious route for our dinners. If you don’t cook, try ordering something in, make everyone chip in for dinner! The point is, we are all very busy people hustling from one thing to the next, it’s hard enough to find time to sit down to eat dinner let alone with your loved ones. 

I challenge you to get together with your family and friends on a scheduled basis. You’ll be surprised how effortless it becomes. It’s good for the heart!