With very few exceptions, supper was eaten at home. Mostly those at the table were Mother, Daddy, myself and my two sisters. Conversation was always lively--at least amongst the girls. Daddy was a man of few words, and usually only spoke up when the rest of us got out of control. "Getting tickled" at the table was commonplace. It could be triggered by something as simple as the configuration of green peas on a plate bearing a striking resemblance to our preacher. Or it could be because my sisters saw me hiding most of my ham (which I did not like) inside the empty shell of my baked potato. They thought it was funny. I thought is was ingenious! Eventually, before things got totally out of hand, Daddy would look up and say one word in a deep voice. "Girls". That one word spoken by him was guaranteed to quiet us down for at least 60 seconds. I must also say that "girls" included Mother, who was always right in the big middle of it with us. Though a quiet man, Daddy was always a stickler for manners. Napkins in laps. Elbows off the table. No smacking! And absolutely no television.
What happened around our table in the 60's and 70's in a little oilfield town in West Texas would never be called "dinner". With dinner there is a connotation of seriousness. With the place settings. With the food. With the conversation. No, what we had was supper. And it was the best time of the day.
I'm uncertain as to whether families nowadays have supper. I think "dinner" is more in line with these times. We have dinner out with our families because we're busy. We have dinner out with friends because it's easier. I find there is a lack of intimacy in "dinner". We're able to keep a safe distance from each other when we meet up in a public places. When we don't cook together or clean up dishes together, there is less chance that we have to share ourselves. Hmmm. Here's what got me thinking about this.
A few weeks ago a friend that I had not seen in about a year invited my husband and me to her house for "supper". When she said the word, it sounded almost foreign to me, but it immediately brought back all kinds of sweet, warm images from a time in my past. It had been ages since I had been invited to "supper". I had high hopes! The night arrived and my husband and I set out on the 45-minute drive through the countryside to get to my friend's house. We were greeted by her and her husband and took a stroll through the century-old house they'd recently moved into--the place where generations of their family had lived. It was the house where I would be reminded of the importance of supper.
There was the time of fixing drinks together and chatting on the back porch while the food was in the oven. Later, there was the clearing of the table together and rinsing the dishes together during which time the conversation never lulled. The meal, as delicious as it was, paled in comparison to keeping company with sweet friends. It was intimate and fun and honest. It was casual and relaxing. Four friends sitting around a table with an abundance of laughter and stories. A glass of iced tea at the front end and a strong cup of coffee at the other end. Photo albums came out. The sharing of family events. It was the kind of night when you have to make yourself get up to leave because you really would like to stay a bit longer! We left that night with goodbye hugs on the front porch under the porch light. As we walked away to get in our car, I heard the screen door close behind us. I had just experienced "supper". And I was happier for it.
|suppertime on the porch.|