Family dinner


My son is home for the weekend from Montreal where he’s going to university. He’s a total string-bean student, with wild bushy hair and sideburns….I’ve had quite a rough road with him, with trouble at school and trouble at home while he was a teenager. So far the visit is going well, though I haven’t seen a whole lot of him. My main function is to provide the food! But last night we spent some time watching a movie and commenting a bit on it, and it felt quite cozy. It’s nice to have someone in the house at times.

Today I am very anxious. I have invited my parents for dinner, as well as my ex-husband and an old family friend. My family petrifies me. At least I had the presence of mind not to invite my sister and her boyfriend. My sister and I are not close, and she makes the family dynamic worse than it has to be. It seems my father has less power if it’s just me, and he’s coming into my space.

My mother hosts a lot of family and social dinners, and she works very hard at them, so everything is ‘perfect’, all the food homemade, dessert home baked, appetizers of costly cheeses and her home really nice.

Now cut to my home. A small flat, where the walls of the kitchen need painting, papers need filing, the place looking a little disorganized… I’ve never put money into nice furniture, so everything is a little random. I am not a perfect cook, and lack interest in making a complicated meal. My wine will be vin ordinaire, there will likely be no appetizers at all, as I forgot to buy any.

If you watch the TV show Gilmour Girls, it’s that exact dynamic of Lorelei with her upper crust parents, though my parents have very different personalities then the ones in the show. But that feeling of moving into a stifling world of privilege and needing to escape as quickly as possible, while not wishing to cut ties entirely – that part is bang on for me.

I am deathly afraid of being judged for my flat and my cooking. My father specializes in judgment, with my mother trying to make it better by papering everything over. The judgment won’t be in words, just little looks or tones of voice. Enough to make you crazy.

But here’s where I feel I outdo my mother – I am genuinely interested in making guests comfortable. My mother gets so caught up in the perfection aspect, that she has little time to actually sit and talk and relax with anyone. It’s a performance. I aim to be relaxed and natural if at all possible. I know the dinner isn’t a performance I should be judged on – the purpose is to get together and relax for a few hours.

My son had a birthday last week, so the dinner is a bit of a birthday party. Right now, I need to get past the anxiety and start tidying, then prepare the dinner in plenty of time so I won’t be stressed by rushing. So far today, I’ve not done much but worry about it. Somehow, it’s going to happen.

The menu?
Roast chicken with lemon (easy, I’ve done it before)
Roast beets
Roast potatoes or baked
Fresh peas with a bit of mint
Salad if i have time (dressing already made)
Ice cream

This is totally doable. I hope. It’ll be OK I think. And as they are coming into my space, there’ll be extra politeness and appreciation happening…So it’s unlikely to be a bad experience.

With a difficult family background, all these holiday type occasions are fraught with difficulty. It’s something I have to learn to manage.

Art: Vivacious Visions

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4 comments
  1. alice said:

    hi elleni hope the dinner goes well. try to ignore the judgements, smile and move on. sometimes just smiling foxes people. i feel for you. x

  2. Ellen said:

    thanks Alice. It went pretty well – i'm going to post about it again…Smiling, what a concept πŸ™‚ I'll try it.

  3. Nechtan said:

    Hi Ellen,I wish I was there, the menu sounds very appetising. I am pleased for you that it went well and I hope there was not too many anxious moments. Look forward to hearing about it in a future post.All the bestNechtan

  4. Ellen said:

    Nechtan, you would be an excellent addition to my guest list πŸ™‚

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