Early, early, early this morning, we dropped JT off at the airport. He is heading off to Basic Training for three weeks to complete the necessary requirements for his entry into the Reserves as a musician, a process that started almost two years ago but was delayed due to Covid. He arrived in April, and eventually after things opened up, was able to arrange to take the first two required modules here in Nova Scotia rather than in Ontario where things were still closed down. He will be back home for a couple of days after the first of September before driving back to Hamilton.
I have to admit that it has been an absolute joy having our son home for almost four months. For the first time in a long time, we had time to be a family. We did a lot of enjoyable things together, some of which may make it into other blog posts; but the thing we did together that I enjoyed the most was family meals.
Family meals have always been top priority in our house. When JT was young, nothing, absolutely nothing, interfered with family meals. No activities were scheduled during meal times, which were allowed to linger for as long as it took. We are not people who liked to rush through our meals. Meal times were, and still are, the time of the day when we come together as a family to enjoy food and communicate. It is the time of day when we learn the most about each other, what we have been doing or what is on each other’s minds. It is where great discussions and sometimes passionate, but not personal, arguments of different views take place (usually between JT and me because The Doc is a quiet man and not one to voice strong opinions and argue views). It is also where tastes and smells are enjoyed and compliments are given.
When JT was younger, I couldn’t imagine giving that time away to some activity that kept a child busy but not necessary connected to family. I couldn’t imagine running to McDonalds or grabbing some prepackaged crackers and meat to substitute as family dinner just to do these activities because parents thought that keeping their children busy would keep them out of trouble. I don’t believe in over scheduled children who don’t know how to think or entertain themselves. These are the same children who can get in trouble because they are bored as teens and make bad decisions. For my family, there were always other times to give away over meal times, because meal times were much too precious. They were our nucleus.
That being said, we made every meal count when JT was here because we knew that this together time would be short lived. We ate most of our breakfasts together, even if it was just a bowl of cereal. Other times it was bagel-egg breakfast sandwiches, poached eggs, omelettes, or pancakes with blueberries or peaches in them.
Dinners were wonderful. We all did some cooking. JT making a few delicious treats for our taste buds to savour, including Carne Asada tacos and stuffed pork tenderloin. The Doc, who has got into the habit of perusing the internet for new and tasty things to try like chicken pad tai and enchiladas. And me making all JT’s favourites such as wings and ribs and roast pork with mashed potatoes and gravy. I even fed him some things I didn’t bother trying to when he was a young and picky eater. Things like seafood tetrazzini and curry shrimp.
Then, of course, there were desserts. Not every day, but often enough to make the meals special. We aren’t big on icing and sweet, sweet desserts. We like strawberry shortcake and blueberry grunt, which is stewed blueberries topped with a dumpling and steamed–something we serve with vanilla frozen yogurt. And of course some pies. JT loves cream pies so we had coconut cream shortly after he arrived and then his favourite, banana cream, a couple of days before he left. Desserts allow our family dinners to linger longer, making them more enjoyable. I will also say that none of us, not one of us, put on any weight. We were all active this summer and although we enjoy our meals, overeating is not our habit.
When JT returns on September first, we will enjoy a few more meals together before he picks up in his room, packs up his car and heads back to his apartment in Ontario. He will be finally moving forward in his life after such a long and stressful delay; and I, well I will miss him greatly …especially at meal times.
Thank you for reading.
Photos: Jenn Stone