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Kitchens are for Family

The morning after Christmas used to feel like the calm after a storm. Now that the kids are all in their late teens and early 20s, the morning after is more anti-climactic, or so I thought when I crept down from the guestroom to my sister’s kitchen.

I was trying to get back on the diet wagon after 24 hours of gluttony that could’ve landed me a spot on the dieting edition of “Food Hoarders”. I had almost completely abandoned my attempt, cracking open the fridge in search of leftovers, when I heard my sister in her thick socks, padding into the kitchen. She got a small bite to eat, and we nibbled and chatted about work and kids — our first sister to sister chat since start of the holiday – until my father emerged from the other guestroom just off the kitchen.

Dad made a piece of toast, and the three of us talked, keeping our volume low –a tacit recognition that a very short, rare spell was being cast as the early sun started warming the kitchen and chasing the frost on the windows. A few minutes later, my mother, perfectly coiffed, emerged, only slightly increasing the hum of our conversation.

Work conversation morphed into discussion of family summer vacation plans, and suddenly my mom uttered a high pitched, “Huh!”

We didn’t realize it at the moment, but spell had just been broken.

“I can’t remember when the four of us have last been in the same room at the same time,” my mom said. I looked at her and looked around the kitchen, and realized it had been years since our foursome had been in one place without in-laws and children or grandchildren present.

When I thought back to the times when just my sister and I were alone with our parents – our little unit, I remembered being completely different person. I remembered being unsure of and unhappy about what life would bring. I remembered times when I all but cut off communication with our unit and the reasons I reconnected.

In the intervening years and distances, we’ve all changed. We’ve recycled and renewed our relationships, almost creating new ones as different people.

Now, as my sister and I are parenting young adults, we are watching our own family units start to divide. Our children are beginning to make their own lives and become their own people, and I started to wonder how many more opportunities like this the Big Guy and I have for moments like this with our boys.

We heard one of the kids moving around upstairs and knew that our small moment was about to end.

“Do you all want to move into the dining room where it’s a little more comfortable?” My sister asked, sensing a change.

“No,” my dad answered, “dining rooms are for eating, kitchens are for talking.”

We laughed, and, even though our little spell had ended, we lingered in the kitchen waiting for the next arrival to find a little piece of conversation to nibble on.