Most people probably have their own routine family rituals, be it family days on good old family Sunday, or maybe some other day of the week when they are not too caught up in the rat race or their individual lives. There are also the family occasions such of birthdays and weddings to bring the family together. Well, not quite in my case with my daddy flying around a fair bit for work, mommy having to juggle work and taking care of granny with recent complications, brother not being around because he does not quite like sticking around in the house too much, and last of all, me being away for studies. Heaven forbid that it would be a funeral to see us all together next, touch wood.
Morbidity aside, guess it is also due to the absence of such a familiar pattern, that it makes me think long and hard about my favourite family routine. The initial thought that came to mind was Christmas since that is probably the only one family gathering in the whole year where the rsvp, for me, would be a yes for once. However, that did not quite fit the requirement and meaning of "family routine" sufficiently. Then the archaic idea of "boring dinners" struck. Only problem there, is that the number of dinners eaten together in a cozy foursome in a year can be counted within the scope of my ten fingers, and maybe if lucky enough, then my two feet can be added in the equation.
Nevertheless, there is one particular dinner, that can be said, in a roundabout way, to be my favourite family routine. That would be the farewell dinner each time before flying off for a long haul year of books and cheap scraps of eat ins in a little apartment in a land far away.
The farewell dinner could come in many forms, be it my favourite japanese of everything raw from the sea and from the land of the rising sun; or a fat slab of tenderloin, medium rare no less, in a nice steakhouse; or simple hawker fare of barbeque stingray and squid spiced up a thick slather of chilli; or a humble homecooked beef stew that mommy slaved over for hours; or an oriental feast of steamed promfret, prawns, roasted barbeque pork, and so much more, not to forget that gigantic bowl of lotus root peanut soup, if granny was well enough to whip up a storm in kitchen, let alone join us.
Dinner did and still does not need to be a fancy fanfare, although it is acknowledged that my parents do try their best to cater to my food palette preferences in hope for me to eat well and have that last good meal before my departure. The finicky foodie in me would probably attribute this as a reason as to why this would be my favourite family routine. The sentimental little kid in me would certainly say otherwise.
The dinner is normally a quiet affair, where it starts out with daddy saying a prayer for journey mercies and asking for blessings in my studies before we all tuck in. It is also one of the rare few times in a year where the four of us would definitely be seated at the same table breaking bread so to speak. Even if it were to be with granny and the rest of the family, it would still be no rowdier than if it were to be just the four of us. Not that we did not have much to catch up or say to each other; on the contrary, it is more of a comfortable ease where showing love was in whispery moments of scooping an extra helping of fish, or peeling a prawn and unobtrusively sliding it at the corner on the plate, or lovingly subdued gentle words of "eat more".
Of course, the all delectable after dinner dessert cannot be missed out on after the scrumptious dinner. Despite the fact that mommy hates me to snack on anything classified under the category of "junk" in food, there is, however, one permitted evil in the icebox, guess that is to cater to both our sweet tooths. There would always be a heavenly pint of ice cream hidden around someplace behind all the tupperware of frozen meats and foods, waiting to be discovered and paired with a tempting side of freshly cut luscious strawberries.
Evidently, all good things must come to an end, very sadly, this is no exception to the rule. In the midst of fond recollection of all the varying family occasions, farewell dinners certainly has got to top the list for my favourite family routine. Being in my concurrent position as the poor struggling student, it is impossible for me to give my family back in kind for all they have done for and given to me.
In spite of it all, if it were in my means to give my loved ones the world, of which they only had to ask, really would do just that, that much is for sure. It is my personal goal to be able to, one day, some day, bring the family to share the sights and sounds of the seven wonders of the world. For now, hopefully there would be a potential opportunity to bring them to see and smell the seven wonders of the little island that have come about with the city's development on my getting back, provided there is a shot at winning that great family day out first. Oh well, cross my fingers, hope to die.