Like most of you, I get a lot of invitations for evening business events. I almost always decline saying I have a conflict or prior engagement. The prior engagement is my commitment to have dinner with my family. Dinner each evening is and was mandatory and follows a prescribed agenda.
(Michelle is missing from the picture because she was the photographer.)
The format begins with saying grace, and then going around the table to get updates on everyone’s day. Grievances are aired, achievements celebrated and relationships are fostered. You can imagine when Michelle (now 28) and AJ (25) hit their teenage years this practice was less than appealing and quickly earned the moniker forced family fun. Parents have the innate ability to periodically annoy the crap out of their teenage children and I was particularly competent in this area. When I eventually relaxed my iron grip on the dinner ritual and permitted Michelle and AJ to go out with their friends (at around age 16) dinner together became a 3 or 4 night a week event. Despite intermittent grumbling from them about having to engage in forced family fun, everyone seemed to clamor for their turn to speak to update everyone on some important development in their lives – particularly when the frequency declined. Forced family fun was after all…fun.
The ritual continues today with Hanna and Jamie. Please don’t take it personally when I decline your invitation to an evening business function. I am however, available for breakfast daily.