The CNN site had a story recently of a family where Dad is a Navy pilot, deployed for the third time to the Middle East. Mom is an amazing Mom living in Bangor, Maine with three rambunctious sons who have already dealt with Dad's absence on the first two deployments.
This time around, they talked early on of how much they would miss seeing Dad sitting in his chair at the dining room table. So Mom suggested they invite someone special once a week for every week that Dad is gone.
Turns out the first guest was Susan Collins, the senator from Maine. After that, it seemed to the kids they could get anyone they wanted so they started writing letters of invitation to a variety of people, some famous, some not so famous. And looks like most of them have come or plan to.
Susan Smiley, the Mom in the story, says that she serves spaghetti, lasagna, whatever she would normally serve to the kids. The dinners are neither elaborate nor huge; they're just family supper fare.
Here's what got me thinking. These kids and their Mom have now had fascinating dinner conversations--yes, one a week--for nearly a year, with people they find interesting and they say they've learned lots from all of them. One of the guest's was the youngest boy's teacher. They've had a local policeman. They've had celebrities, even the guy who designed R2-D2 and, yes, he brought R2-D2 to dinner with the kids.
What if every family--yes, your family, too--decided that part of the routine as a family would be to have a dinner guest once a week? Who would you invite? What would you like to learn from him or her?
And now the bigger question, why not do it? What keeps you from asking a next door neighbor you've been intrigued about? Or the policeman in your neighborhood? Or a teacher? Or your local mayor? Or even a celebrity? It would be terrific practice in letter writing (that old fashioned thing, even using a stamp!). And it would be a terrific exercise in meaningful conversation.
You could tell your invitees your family is practicing its conversation skills and would love to include them in those lively, interactive exchanges.
You may be surprised. Maybe you should get your whole church group, or bridge club, or basketball team or car pool to do the same and compare notes.
You could get us all talking again. Not to mention having dinner together again.
Here's the CNN article in its entirety if you'd like to get inspired.