As a child, I used to envy the people I saw in Olive Garden commercials.
Nearly every television spot was the same.
It always focused around a large festive family gathering.
A waiter would bring never-ending bowls of pasta and breadsticks as the beautiful folks sat around laughing and chatting it up.
With each new course presented, the people on screen would look at each other in astonishment at the culinary revelation set before them and then proceed to smile and chew at the same time.
The restaurant claimed: ‘When you’re here, you’re family.’
I wanted to be adopted.
My family dinners did not live up to this utopian ideal.
Not that it was terrible either.
No matter how busy things got, my Mother made it a point to make dinner from scratch and eat together as a family every night
However between a teenager in high school, a pre-teen in junior high, a child in elementary school, and a set of overworked often unappreciated parents conversation could occasionally become sparse.
Or even worse, confrontational.
I don’t know what it was.
Maybe it was because it was the end of the week.
Or perhaps it was because it was the one night we got to eat meat, white bread and carbonated beverages with refined sugars.
But for some reason when my mother lit those candles and we sat down, we laughed and we smiled when we chewed.
It was for the briefest of moments like being that family on T.V.
Without the pasta and breadsticks.