Family dinners for me is of 3 types – 1) when my sister & I were younger, 2) when my sister comes home for dinner with her husband & kids 3) when we have a big family dinner with lots of relatives and 4) the majority of dinners are when I am just home with my folks.
When we were young my sister & I had dinner with our parents it was usually around 7:30pm – 8:30pm and we’d be parked in front on the tv in our small apartment in Kuwait, plates balanced on a coffee table situated in the center of the living room. We watched all the great tv shows that they would air during those years – the A-Team, Knight Rider, Battlestar Galactica, Moonlighting, Remingston Steel, magic shows like from magicians like David Copperfield or Paul Daniels etc etc. Or even wrestling! We stayed back on the sofas with our plates until the show that we were watching ended. Those were some fun times. When we moved back to India, from 1987 till 1991 we didn’t get cable tv (hadn’t been launched in India yet) so if not for some sports event on the national channels, we’d watch some songs or stuff. At times we’d have our dinner at the big dining table at one end of the living/dining room of our house.
When my sister comes over now, along with her kids and at times my brother-in-law, they all crowd in front of the tv. Usually it will be a movie, which is fit for the kids to watch as well or some award show. I am usually in my room and at my laptop and will only come out for the actual meal and will eat it quickly and then go back. It’s funny to see how fussy my niece is about food, cause her mother was one real fussy eater until her 20s!! Like mom, like daughter!
When we have family get togethers it’s usually a noisy, unfocussed & fun affair. Drinks will be part of it and there’s a lot of jokes being bandied about and private conversations between 2 or 3 people going on in separate corners. Food is plentiful and plates being passed around and usually a small kid will come crying in and then it’s a group effort to pacify it, with only the parent being genuine; the others are just vague attempts with some humour thrown in. The percentage of humour increases if there is alcohol consumed and increases even more as the number of drinks increase. Towards the end is the usual goodbyes and promises of meeting real soon and the hurrying into vehicles.
98% of the time it’s just me, my mom & dad in our little apartment. Mom calls for dinner, I come in, sit at my usual seat at the table. If there is a football match on or if I want to watch a movie, I’m usually on the sofa near the tv and my folks are at the dining table. We eat usually in silence unless either one of us has some news to pass on. I finish my dinner, keep my plate in the sink, wash my hands & mouth and then head on back to the tv or my room.