“You can’t forget how important coming together is, whether it be a mom and a son, a dad and a daughter, whether the family be ten people, or twenty people, or a million people. Dinnertime is the perfect time for that. Dinnertime is the perfect time when you can sit down, you can offer thanks to your kids for making you laugh, or to your parents for supporting you, or to a god for looking out for you, or to whomever you want. You can just close your eyes and open them again and realize that you have the opportunity everyday to change your life, or change someone else’s. Dinnertime is a great time to think about that.
~ Dillon, age 22
From Dinnertimes: Stories of American Life, 1912 to 2012”
We’re stuck in the city just now, waiting for Ben’s knee to be sufficiently recovered from surgery for him to sit in the car for a few hours while we drive home to our farm.
One of the beautiful things in our marriage is that we talk about anything and everything. We have never yet run out of conversation.
So, Ben asked me last night, ‘If you could invite six people to Christmas Dinner, who would they be?’
‘Anyone at all?’ I asked him.
Yep. I could invite anyone at all. My mind went crazy. A table full of interesting and intelligent conversation? Wow. Who to ask? The new Pope. I’d love to have him to dinner. Patrick Stewart? Make it so. Sting? Remind him to bring his guitar, or a lute. Elizabeth Gilbert. She’d be fun. Cate Blanchett too. I was searching for a third woman to balance up the numbers, but really wanting to ask Joss Whedon while tossing up Joan Jett or Dame Judi Dench. Then I had a thought. I asked Ben if my dinner guests had to be living.
‘Pretty hard to have a conversation if they’re dead’, Ben said, ‘but sure, if you want.’
Suddenly everything changed.
If I could invite anyone? Anyone at all?
It would be my darling grandparents. Nana and Pa. Marga and Ceddie. As a grown woman now, there is so much I want to ask them. So much we never got to say. Ben’s dad. Bill passed away before I met his son. I’ve always wanted to cook for him, and to hear his stories. My Great Aunt Gwen, who died when I was still at high school. She was a remarkable woman, and she has had such a formative influence on me. I’d love the chance to share one good meal with her, adult to adult.
That’s who I’d want. Not famous strangers. Loved ones. Family. One last chance to have a glorious conversation, to ask them all the things we never talked about, to tell them how much they mean to me, how much I love them. To thank them with my hugs and my words and my food.
Who would you ask, if you could?