Pictured at left is a bowl of Family Day. I know it looks like an artery clogging heart stopping bowl of gourmet poutine; glorious homemade french fries cut from the finest Yukon gold potatoes the grocery store has to offer, sprinkled with near crispy bits of bacon, sweet golden brown caramelized onions, nuggets of white cheese curd so fresh they squeak between your teeth, warm and salty and blanketed with a luxurious laddlefull of maple bbq beef gravy. (napkins are on the counter)
Looks can be deceiving. Like I said it's a bowl of Family Day.
Our family missed Family Day. Well, we didn't so much miss it, it was more a failure to synchronize. We all knew it was Family Day but the efforts to celebrate caused more tension than harmony. In short we just tried too darn hard and pushed family togetherness right out the window. It is one of the greatest lessons in life and the one I struggle to remember all the time; Let it be, what's meant to be.
Meant to be is what happened yesterday on the way home from a disappointing loss at the rink. Family harmony came to life in the back seat, an effort to lighten the mood became a game plan for what I coined Guilt Free Saturday (an effort to justify the ridiculous 'what's for dinner' menu my kids were dreaming up).
The plan; an epic dinner to be enjoyed tv-side with a feature NHL game (Pittsburg vs. Montreal...you can't make this stuff up)
What was on the epic dinner menu? Not vegetables. Maple bacon BBQ cheddar burgers sandwiched on bakery rolls and served with a side of gourmet poutine. Just reading it makes your arteries clog and your pulse race, internal conflict rivaled only by my natural instinct to not fuel my body with poison vs. my desire to dive right into a day of indulgence and family fun. Indulgence won.
A quick stop at the grocery store for essential ingredients not usually on hand, namely burgers, buns, cheese curds, and bacon. We arrived home with smiles and comradery. In the kitchen E helped cut and blanche potatoes, KJ precision fried the bacon and I sliced and diced onions, tomatoes, and cheese. Lula, whose favourite room is not the kitchen, kept the dog distracted from the aromas wafting from it. Mike, enjoyed an indulgence of his own, a nap...and we let him, because well.... we don't let him very often and what better way to say "we love you Dad." than to let the man rest up before his gourmet meal.
I set up a burger grilling station for E and he worked that George Forman like a grill master, cooking each burger to perfection then smothering them lovingly with Maple BBQ sauce to bathe in while they rested in the oven. KJ cooked a golden roux for the gravy and stirred the gently caramelizing onions. I soaked it all in, the cooperation, the intensity of heart to task, the verbal jousting, the 'family' that filled the air.
Anyone who tries to portray that their family is a living breathing cocoon of love, peace and togetherness is probably delusional and quite likely thinks you are an idiot. Families aren't, they are places where people learn to debate and speak their minds, individuate themselves and become independent. Families squabble and slam doors, they cry and disagree, they push each other to be better and call one another out when they are being less than they are capable of. Homes are places where people learn to trust and take chances, get comfortable with who they are and who they want to become. Families are the thing that catch and comfort you when things don't go how you thought they would and you need a soft place to heal.
The cocoon of love peace and togetherness is always there, rippling just beneath the surface of the chaos. It doesn't surface because you will it, it surfaces when you won't it. When you simply let it be.
Guilt Free Saturday, I would love to have them every week. Fortunately for my arteries and my waistline a family doesn't readily support the idea.
This morning I am extremely grateful that I opted out of the burger stopped at a single serving of poutine and that the dog is up for a good long walk. I am also grateful that life sends you the lessons you need, when you need them the most.