Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Who Says Families Should Talk?

This weekend, my parent's celebrated their 40th Wedding Anniversary. We went out to eat with them at the restaurant of my father's choosing. We went to.... Wait for it.... The Old Spaghetti Factory. Needless to say my mother was not pleased with 1)his selection, and 2)the fact that he didn't think to consult her of her desired restaurant destination. I mean, he hasn't consulted her on what to have for dinner for the most part from what I remember, so why she should think he'd start now is beyond me. Usually a 40th Anniversary would be a very joyous occasion, but instead it was another odd evening of eating with a lot of awkward silence.

Sitting at a table for 4 with my parents has become a now twice annual event. Their anniversary and Thanksgiving. Strangely enough, we never really did this as we were growing up or even as adults until right before my brother moved to Canada. My family never really learned the art of eating together at the table, sharing stories, having discussions or actually communicating in general.

So when we have these little get togethers, the four of us sit there. Practically in silence, except when myself or my mom thinks of something with which to break the silence. If we're lucky, it'll be a really long story that somewhat sounds interesting so the other person can be thinking up the next story to tell. Or we just comment on the food... a lot.

Me, being the big communicator of the family, I find this very uncomfortable. I talk. It's what I do. And sitting there, with the people that gave me life, and the person whom gives me more love then I can imagine, I find myself sitting in silence, or I am drawn to talk about idle chit chat which I know really no one cares about.

The few times I've tried to talk about "meaningful" subjects I see my mom's eyes glaze over, and generally my father isn't listening so I don't really get upset when he doesn't respond. I inevitably feel like a referee at some point in the evening, because my mother will make some comment about my father.. you know, with him sitting right there. But since he is only paying attention to his food, it generally goes unnoticed. But sometimes, he catches on. And then I feel the need to change the subject because it's what I've done for 30+ years.

It's amazing I learned how to talk at all. But this is probably why I put such a heavy emphasis on good communication in any of my relationships, and why I'm so open. Hell, someone had to break the silence in my family.


Gina said...

That must be hard to do. And, I have to say, The Spaghetti Factory?? For a 40th?? My mother would have had a fit and not gone.

ML said...

Family dynamics an an odd thing, to say the very least.

Spaghetti Factory? Wow...I'd really have something to say if my hubbs decided to go there for our 40th :)

beenzzz said...

Yeh, I must agree with the Spaghetti Factory 40th anniversary dinner. I would freak!
It would drive me nuts not to have any form of communication. Then again, sometimes I wish they would shut-up! :)

Susan in Italy said...

Well, as a quiet person who likes to listen more than talk, I really appreciate people who tell long stories and such. On the bright side, it's probably served you well out in the world socially.

J said...

Oh dear, that sounds horrid. The thing with families, I guess, is to look at what they gave you...take what you like, and leave behind what you don't like. I'm glad that you spend these awkward meals together, because it can reinforce for you, your knowledge that communication is important to you...and, when you and E have kids, you'll want to sit down to lively dinners with actual conversations. :) So they know how to have that.

Lalunas said...

Spaghetti Factory was probably honored to have your parents there on their 40th anniversary.
Families... That is all I dare say.

On your 40th anniversary I know you would not be going to the Spaghetti Factory.

Starshine said...

Oh, Cherry, I'm not even sure what to say here, so I'll just send some *hugs*.


Ginger said...

My parents just celebrated 40 years, too! They are going to spend the weekend at a B&B to celebrate.

Love Bears All Things said...

I'm so sorry this isn't a good anniversary for them. I feel so blessed that J & I are growing closer in love, companionship and faith as the years go by. We just celebrated 40 and it gets sweeter every day. I wish that for your parents.