Last night we completed our first season of Moveable Feasts, where once a month, we take time to convene family around a dinner table. As the name suggests, this family feast is on the move; it has places to go and food to taste with our only constant being the group of familiar faces gathered together.
Each month the host changes — each of our children and their mates, plus my husband, his mother and I take turns playing host. This adds up to ten months of moveable feasts, with two months off in November and December, when the holidays naturally bring us together. This year we’ve eaten our way through one brunch, two lunches and seven suppers, involving two home-cooked meals and dining out at seven restaurants across the Oklahoma City area and one old saloon in Okarche. It was a strange stew of Italian, Indian, Cajun, Brazilian, Chinese and mouth-watering Southern fried chicken.
It was my idea to do this, my way of bridging the widening gap between my best dreams — having all my chicks home every Saturday night in my Mesta Park nest — and my worst nightmares — never seeing the faces of my flown-the-coop children again. But unexpectedly, what began as a gap closing measure may have turned out to be better than my best dreams. Because no longer am I slaving away in the kitchen to feed eleven to fifteen hungry appetites. No longer am I in charge of aligning the moon and the stars in hopes of gathering six family units together at the same time and place. And best of all — no longer am I in charge of resolving that age-old question: What should I fix for dinner?
And guess what? Just like that old Life cereal commercial that sprang out of the 1960’s, which featured little Mikey and his skeptical-of-Life big brothers — just like Mikey who faithfully tried and liked his bite of Life — my family tried the Moveable Feast and… they liked it. They liked it so much that they are ready to do it all over again. It may take us different places perhaps, but always with the same faces — and the possiblity of one more if my son Kyle is so moved.
This year’s final act was to write down ten months on a napkin, tear them into pieces and take turns drawing. And so goes life and the lessons it brings, even if it’s just relearning the same old lessons; home-spun goodies like the simpler the bettter and hospitality begins at home.
But being the contemplative that I am, I ponder now on what personal lesson I gained from this spiritiual exercise of letting go. Ultimately, of course, it’s a who-but-God-knows. But for now, perhaps it’s this simple: When I relax my grip to release my best dream, I open my hand to receive the best that real life has to offer. One bite at a time.
Lovely tradition – and gosh, they look so young!
That aligning business can be tough – we’ve tried for a decade to get mom and I, one aunt and three cousins plus spouses together for Thanksgiving, and it’s never happened, even when we made it from Texas to KC. So it goes – you’re lucky to have everyone near enough to make the gatherings possible!
Yes, you’re right. It helps that everyone is near by. But I think it helps more that they want to gather. If it wasn’t important to them, it wouldn’t happen, no matter how close they lived.
In other words, it helps to be both emotionally and physically close.