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By Jenny Rosenstrach, Dinner: A Love Story
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The Sweetest Dinner Ritual

Wednesday, October 19, 2016 8:29
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am so excited to continue my Family Rituals Series featuring the one and only Joanna Goddard. You probably know her as the creator/empress behind Cup of Jo, which is not so much a lifestyle blog as it is a thrice-daily fix that her zillion zealous fans (including yours truly) crave like junkies. I am grateful to her for that, of course, but mostly I’m grateful for her as an entrepreneurial inspiration, a faithful DALS supporter from the beginning, and a good friend. Here, she shares a ritual I guarantee you’ll start tonight. Take it away Joanna!
My young boys are typically chatty Cathies, but for some reason, when we sat down to dinner, they’d clam up. When I’d ask them questions — ”How was school?” “How was lunch?” ”How was the playground?”— they’d answer monosyllabically, while wolfing down chicken fingers and the odd piece of broccoli.
So, one day, determined to spark conversation (and teach them the joy of talking to friends and family over a shared meal), I suggested a new game. We’d go around the table, and each person would ask a question to another person of their choosing.

“Who wants to go first?” I asked.

Both boys’ hands shot up.

And thus it began: Our now beloved ritual of going around the table and asking each other questions. Six-year-old Toby usually goes first (as older brothers usually do), and for a while, his favorite question was, “How did you get home from work?” We’d regale him with stories of fast bike rides and busy subway trains. Then three-year-old Anton would go next. “Um…. how did you get home from work?!!” he would ask, even though he had just heard our answers. (We’d try our best to tell them again without skipping a beat.)

As time passed, their questions and answers became more varied. Anton went through a “How was your day?” phase, which always sounded so sweet coming from a toddler, and Toby upped the ante by asking more fantastical questions, like, “What animal would you be?” and true to form, “What is your favorite kind of car?”
Alex and I ask them where in the world they’d want to go on a trip, or who they’d invite for a sleepover (real or pretend!). But truth be told, all I really want to ask them is, ‘Will you promise you’ll always be this sweet? And that you’ll always sit around a dinner table with your mama who loves you?’”

Thank you, Joanna! (And Toby and Anton, pictured here.) See you soon.

Credits Illustration: Good Housekeeping, ca. 1954; Joanna and boys: Nicki Sebastian.


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