I hardly ever cook dinner. There’s lots of willing chefs in our house who are more than happy to provide dinner each night.

Tonight it’s Imogen’s turn. She grabs the huge pan of bolognaise sauce off the stove, and carries it over to the kitchen bench where a pile of bowls are waiting. Soon all the bowls are full. There's still plenty of sauce and spaghetti left in the pan. There’s enough for visitors or second helpings or tomorrow’s lunch.

Sophie carries the bowls to the table when eight hungry people are waiting.

“How are we going to cope when we leave home?” asks Charlotte, looking at all the food. “We’ll only have to cook dinner for one or two people.”

“Yes, we’re used to cooking enough food to feed a crowd,” says Imogen.

“We’d have to scale all our recipes down,” says Sophie.

“I hope your maths is up to scratch,” grins Gemma-Rose. “Fractions and all that.”

“If we reduce the amounts, we’d only need part of an onion, or half a can of something,” says Imogen. “We'd have lots of leftover ingredients. It doesn’t seem worth cooking for so few people.”

“What do you do with part of an onion?” Charlotte wants to know.

“A lot of single people don’t cook for themselves,” says Callum. “They eat take-away every night.”

“Or we could go to a restaurant,” says Gemma-Rose. She smiles at this new idea. “I love eating Italian food.”

“You’d get fat if you ate that sort of food every night,” I say.

“And you’d soon be poor,” adds Imogen. "Restaurant food is very expensive."

“You need to eat healthy food,” I insist. “It’s still worth cooking good food, even if you’re only cooking for yourself.”

“What did you do about dinner when there was only you and Dad?” asks Charlotte.

“Well… er… We ate take-aways,” I admit with a smile.

Everyone laughs.

“You could cook the normal amount of food and then freeze the left-over portions,” I suggest. “If you do that for a week, you’ll have enough meals to last you a very long time.”

“Or we could just not leave home,” says Imogen. “We won’t get married. We’ll just stay here with you. We’d be able to continue cooking the same amount of food. That’ll solve the problem.”

“Or we could take turns at cooking,” says Sophie.

“Huh?”

“We could visit each other for dinner.”

“Yes,” says Duncan, “we could eat at Callum’s house one night and then at Imogen’s the next…”

"Everyone would cook the usual amount of food but only every few days," explains Sophie.

“We’d have to live close to each other,” observes Gemma-Rose.

“I’ve another idea,” says Callum. “We could all buy houses in this street. Then everything would be very easy. We could just stroll along the road, to the house of whoever's cooking dinner.”

I think about the Elvis family taking over our street. I imagine wandering down the road to see the girls. We could all still meet for early morning runs. I could still enjoy coffee with the boys. I could continue to sit around a table discussing anything and everything with all my children. Callum could even bring his washing home, I suppose.  I wouldn’t have far to go when I felt like a hug… and I would still never have to cook dinner.

I notice the house opposite us has a ‘for sale’ sign hanging on the gate. I peer over the fence. I wonder how much the house will cost to buy. It’s bound to be listed on the Internet. Should I look it up? I know... it’ll never happen. But it’s nice to dream.

One day Andy and I will once again be alone. I’ll be cooking dinner for just two people. Only one small saucepan needed. Will we sit in our usual places, at different ends of the table? Or will we move closer together, down one end? I guess meal times will be quieter. There’ll be no lively conversations where everyone lets their imaginations go wild, and jumps in with silly suggestions. Less noise, less laughter. I will miss all that.

Seven houses in one street? Could we persuade Felicity to move back home? Eight houses in one street? Yes, it’s lovely to dream.
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  1. That sounds blissful! I know of a couple of families who live near to their extended families. They're so close to each other and seem happier for it. I would love to have that for our family. The older children like where we live but, already, our first child has had to move away to get work. She was hoping to get a unit by the beach with a spare room for the rest of us but that's on hold now, until a job comes up close to home.

    It's lovely to read these stories of family closeness. Thank you for sharing!

    God bless, Sue:-)

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    1. Vicky,

      Maybe with lots of children at least one or two will choose to live nearby. That would be lovely.

      Our children also love where we live. They all say they couldn't live in the city, but children go where they can get work, as you know. When Megan has more work experience she may get a job closer to home. It sounds like she'd like that.

      You know that Felicity lives as far away from us as it is possible to go without leaving Australia. I hadn't planned on that! I imagined she'd marry someone local but she didn't. When children marry they have to consider their spouses and not their parents. By the way, I'm glad she married Graham. He is a great person!

      I wrote this story to record an amusing conversation but I guess it does show all the kids are close to each other. That is something to be thankful for. I know your family is very close too.

      God bless!

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  2. What a lovely story. Our children say the same. Mommy, when I grow up, I want to live near you, then I can come home and make coffee for you and take you for a walk every day, just like you do with granddad (my father-in-law lives at our place). But the two children who have left home, has moved far away - even if far away in small Denmark would feel like just around the corner for you :) Studying brings the necessity of going to a big town. I hope that at least some of them will long for rural surroundings when they start having children of their own.
    And yes meals now are noisy and loud, but I'm sure I'll miss it when they all have moved away. I can't remember what we did, or how it was to cook for only two, even though we were married for four years before we had any children. We did not eat take-away, of this I'm sure, as we did not have the money. But I really don't remember.
    We must remember to enjoy our noisy and at times messy meals with a big family :)

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    1. Uglemor,

      I wonder how long it takes for your older children to travel home. Felicity has to fly home from the other side of Australia, and so a trip home is expensive. It's been nearly 1 1/2 years since we last saw her. I hope your children can come home more easily. Did I read you were all able to be together at Christmas? This is a time when it is especially lovely to be together as a family.

      Your village sounds a beautiful place to live. Maybe your children will decide to come home eventually. I think most of us reconsider such things as where we want to live when we have children of our own.

      "I can come home and make coffee for you and take you for a walk every day" That is so beautiful!

      Your comment reminded me that Andy and I didn't always go out for take-away before we had children. When we were first married, we also couldn't afford it. We couldn't even afford the occasional McDonald's burger. Our budget was tight! Later when we both had jobs, we had more money. We'd go to the gym on the way home from work and then buy something to eat because it was late and we felt too tired to cook. That seems a long time ago!

      "We must remember to enjoy our noisy and at times messy meals with a big family" That is so true!

      God bless!

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  3. I love that idea! Wouldn't it be wonderful to always have our children close by? My children all say they wish they had snow in the winters so I fear they will not all stay in sunny, warm Florida. If they someday move far away, I hope we will stay close in other ways though and especially that they will always be very close to one another.

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    1. Kari,

      Maybe your children will move somewhere with snowy winters and then discover they don't like the cold after all! The snow looks so beautiful, but I know from experience that snowy winters are difficult if you aren't used to the cold. Then all your children will move home again!

      You are quite right: Living close to each other is good, but families can remain close even if separated by distance. If my children do fly away, I hope they will still phone frequently and make the effort to visit occasionally. I always enjoy spending an afternoon chatting to Felicity on the phone. We discuss all sorts of things and she always says how much she loves me. I guess if close bonds are made during the growing up years, they will remain regardless of location.

      God bless!

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  4. I definitely think you should buy six houses... think of the money you could save! (by sharing meals). You have, by the way, just described my own dream.

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    1. Nancy,

      We will save money by buying six houses? That is funny!

      I know you have at least one daughter or son living close to you because you have talked about looking after your grandchildren. Do you have any children who live far away? I imagine it is so wonderful being able to have close contact with grandchildren. I hope that when we have some, we'll be close enough to visit frequently. Not looking good at the moment though as our only married child lives on the other side of Australia!

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  5. As long as you have a healthy relationship with your kids, living nearby each other sounds ideal. I have some relo's struggling to remove the apron strings even though they are all in their 30's!

    A friend I worked with a 100 years ago in another life met up with his family (Grandparents, parents, siblings) at the same chinese restaurant every Friday night. I thought it was so lovely.

    I am sorry Felicity loves so far away. My family is in Melbourne and I know how hard it is, especially as I am the only girl and I think my mum had lovely visions of us catching up once a week for lunch, shopping, etc. Makes me feel very stink at times.

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    1. Lisa,

      "As long as you have a healthy relationship with your kids." I hadn't thought about that. I guess some children can't wait to get away from home. Others need to make the break. It was my children's idea for us all to live in one street, so I suppose they can't be too desperate to get away from me! I would promise to be good and not interfere in the running of their homes too much. All a dream though. Such musings are fun but don't normally happen.

      Your mum must miss you! How often do you go home to visit? I bet your mother would love to see her granddaughters more often. It is difficult when children choose to marry people who don't live come from close by.

      I met and married Andy in England. Two weeks after our wedding we flew to Sydney. Andy has never been back in 30 years to visit his family. It must have been so difficult for his mother when she realised Andy was moving halfway around the world. At the time I didn't even consider her feelings. It was easy for me. All my family is here. Now, with children of my own, I know how much pain she suffered when she lost him.

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  6. Sue, this is a touching post. My husband and I have been a couple again for quite a few years....our son is 34. Even though we only had one child, meals were so different when he was growing up. Just the joy of having a child at the table, sharing his day, asking questions, expressing delight if the meal was one of his favorites, etc. brought such sharing and fun to those family times. I miss that so much! It's great when he and his wife are able to join us for dinner...but that's not too often with their busy schedules these days.

    You are blessed to have so many around your table! I hope you always will..as they return again with spouses, children, etc. God knew that large families would bring such joy and sharing and support and fun! Sad that so many don't realize that nowadays.

    Enjoy your brood, little mother hen :) You were wise to bring all those precious lives into the world. Big hugs....xoxo

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    Replies
    1. Patricia,

      I guess this is a large family story though I didn't write it to promote big families. I just thought it was an amusing story I wanted to record and remember. Smaller families have just as many special moments, I know. I am so glad you shared your own story. I love hearing about your son and daughter-in-law. May they be blessed with children! Sharing happy times around the table with both children and grandchildren is something to anticipate with delight!

      I think it is so sad that there are many people who could have children but choose not to. They don't realise the gift they are refusing. Sometimes they realise what they have missed out on when it is too late.

      Patricia, you are always so loving and generous to large families. Thank you for always sharing in our joy and supporting us. God will bless you abundantly for your loving heart! With love xx

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  7. Wouldn't that be fun to live so close together? You and Andy would be busy watching th grand kids and your close knit family would all be blessed! Dream big Sue! Or pray hard!

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    1. Noreen,

      I agree it would be fun to live close together, as long as my daughters and sons-in-law liked me! I haven't had much practice at being a mother-in-law. "Dream big Sue! Or pray hard!" Oh, I like that very much!

      God bless!

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