I recently picked up a copy of Dinner: A Love Story, a beautiful cookbook by blogger and writer Jenny Rosenstratch in which she tells the story of how dinners come together in her family's home. In short, Jenny has kept a diary for many, many years of family dinners in their home. She's a hard-core planner. While I bookmarked many recipes and found myself captivated by her engaging narrative, part of the book also made me a touch anxious: this is so not how we do things around here. My boyfriend Sam and I were visiting our friend's Shauna and Danny a while back on an island off the coast of Seattle. We chatted and baked and on their refrigerator I noticed a piece of paper stuck to the fridge with a colorful magnet mapping out the week's meals. I was in awe. We often can't even get it together to make a proper grocery list let alone plan out the week's meals. And we don't even have kids!
So what is the answer: is there a way to plan out meals, enjoy them together, get all your work done throughout the work week, and still have a rich life outside of all of that? Or is that rich life really all of the pieces colliding together in a way that finds a messy kitchen, messy little helpers, maybe some good music, mail strewn on the table, and thoughts towards a relaxing weekend ahead? I'm inclined to think the latter is true. We all just do the best we can. Messy kitchens or not. Messy kids or not. Imperfect meals or not.
I'm not going to lie: I'm striving to be a little more like my mom, like Jenny, and like Shauna and be more of a planner when it comes to dinner. But right now, it's just not in the cards. Because we work from home, we often log more hours than some of our friends. Work can leak into the evening hours and we find ourselves staring at one another at 9 p.m. wondering what to do for dinner. But I cherish the meals we piece together from what's in the refrigerator. Sure, it might not be the most traditional dinner hour and we might leave the dishes until the next morning. It's not pre-planned and not all that organized, but it finds us sitting at a table together most nights eating something we both love. Like you, we're doing the best we can.
(Image: Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan)