Once a month, ChicagoNow Bloggers are given an hour to write about a topic. The exercise is supposed to prove we can tap out quality within the sixty minute time frame.
Most months, the only thing it proves to me is I can't keep up with a goddamn deadline.
Last Wednesday's topic:
"Write about a favorite or memorable place you have lived for any time at all, whether a country, state, city, childhood home, fraternity/sorority, hostel, hotel or even bedroom."
I spent the first 54 minutes reminiscing via old photographs. Which home-town-city would I choose? What to do. What to do.
With six minutes to go, I knew full well I'd never come up with a title. So I threw in the towel and waited for fellow bloggers to hit the publish button so I begin reading their brilliance.
I can't seem to let this topic go. So fifty-eight hours later I'm plugging it back in. I'm going to be late for my own funeral.
Where was my most memorable place to have lived?
Simple-The Family Table.
Growing up, I came from a large immediate family-there were six of us heathens-plus a mom and a dad.
Major holidays our usual eight became eleven when we spent time with Grandma, Grandad, and Aunt Donna.
Sometimes, we had "company"--extended family from Decatur and Farmer City. But most of the time it was just the eleven of us.
I think of living as being happy, engaged, among family. All of these were evident around our table.
Every meal started with Grace and didn't end until you were "excused".
Long after the last plate was passed around, the conversation would continue.
The conversations were as unique as each person participating. The range went from the weather to politics to New York Times Bestsellers to Oscar contenders. If it was on the front page of the Trib, Times, or Daily News-it was fit for conversation.
The debate was lively for sure.
Everyone was entitled to their own opinion-but an opinion required back-up. Say whatever you want, but be prepared to have back-up for your convictions. A good debate required bringing your "A" game.
I learned a lot of things at that table.
1. Grandma did not like Nancy Reagan. At all.
2. The Voters in the family were Democrats.
3. Negative opinions regarding the Kennedy's were not tolerated.
4. The Kennedy's were considered royalty. The Daley's were second in line.
5. Considering today's standards-my family was far from being politically correct. No race/religion/creed was immune from debate. Including our own.
6. Frank Sinatra-best singer of all time. Case closed.
7. When things looked bleak for your cause, start quoting Mike Royko.
8. Kup's Column was also referred to quite often.
9. We never got through a meal without mentioning Johnny Carson and a guest he had on the week prior.
10. When the conversation got heated-he who talked loudest and slammed his/her fist on the table to prove their point hardest was more often than not the winner of that debate.
11. What was said at the table stayed at the table...meh-my friends wouldn't have been interested anyway.
12. The family's two favorite baseball teams were the White Sox and whoever played the Northsiders (we were not allowed to say the word "Cubs" in the elders' presence).
13. The debate where Dad was losing ground insisting once Doug Collins was fired-things would turn around for the Bulls--not very well received in the mid to late eighties.
14. One Who Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest and The Godfather-apparently best.movies.ever.
15. Nicholson and DiNero-best.actors.ever.
16. Glenn Close's performance boiling the rabbit earned high praise.
17. George Carlin-best comedian ever--until Eddie Murphy's Raw came out.
18. All In The Family-best sitcom ever-until Grandad discovered Seinfeld
19. Iran/Contra Affair/Ollie North Debate - Most lively
20. Grandma's impression of Nancy Reagan: Spot On.
Below are some family pictures from the tables where the conversation and debating took place.
Home is where the heart is-and in our family the heart was the family table.