Saturday, December 4, 2010

Family night out

We had a great afternoon/evening today and a reunion of my immediate family -- my sister and my dad, whose birthday it was. My sister came in on a business trip for work; she always takes the weekend before or after to visit with us. She decided she wanted to surprise Dad for his birthday, and he was! We all saw the Nutcracker, performed by Ballet San Antonio and the San Antonio Symphony, and then went to Rivercenter Mall and later to Paesano's.

My sister and mother-in-law wanted to go shopping after the show, so I stayed behind with Dad (who was not interested) at a table in the food court, overlooking the Riverwalk. He and I had a very nice discussion about my trip abroad as an exchange student when I was 15, parenting teenagers, the economic ramifications of our relationship with China, the threat of nuclear warheads, whether we should have dropped the second atomic bomb on Japan, and more. My dad is a smart man, and I'd forgotten how enjoyable it could be to talk with him.

I have really enjoyable discussions now with both my boys that are also wide-ranging. It's something I really enjoy about our relationship.

One of the highlights of the evening was after dinner, when a spontaneous napkin-origami activity unfolded at our table. (Get it? Unfolded?) Austin started folding his napkin into a pattern, quickly followed by his brother, Grandma Han, my sister, and even a little by Dwaine, who Cynthia calls "the rebel." I knew better than to attempt something like what they were doing, and sat back and watched, as did my dad.

I could tell my dad wanted to get impatient (because that is such a habit with him), but we were all drawn into the moment.Cyndi made an authentic restaurant-quality napkin arrangement that stood on its own. Austin made something he called a hang glider that I thought looked like a stingray. It was impressive on the table but decidedly limp in flight. Andrew made his own special creations which were, hmm, indescribable. My sister also made the cloth equivalent of the finger puzzle you make from a square piece of paper, place on your fingers, and then fold them back and forth and someone chooses a color, then a side, etc., to come out to an answer that unfolds from the paper. I know it has a name, help me! As they designed, we talked, and laughed. At dinnertime, I discovered that my dad thought the Jackass movies are a riot. Though he claims to not have watched them all.

I've learned to nurture these moments when they come, because they are rare. Who would think that folding napkins together could be something meaningful? It was an unplanned hiccup in the day's events, a moment of creative joy mapped out in napkin designs. I don't know that the waiters at the restaurant appreciated it (the tables looked full by then), but we did.

Also, during dinner, my sister asked out of the blue if I try to eat mindfully. (I think I was the last one eating at that point.) Her question caught me doing my usual, mindless chowing down, though perhaps chewing slowly at least! I thought it was great that she asked me at that moment, and that she attempts to practice this habit herself. I love that I have several friends who want to talk to me about being more in the present moment and more mindful.

My sister also asked if I would enjoy it if she got me a magazine subscription for Christmas to "The Sun," not knowing that I had ever heard of it. Another coincidence -- my friend Michele just recently introduced me to this lovely, literary magazine, saying she thought I would like it, and after receiving a second issue from her, I decided I would like to get a subscription. I just hadn't gotten around to it. This is an example of my sister and my friend exhibiting mindfulness in their actions, by deliberately choosing to support a publication that reflects their deeply held values about life. Here is the link to The Sun if you want to see what it is.

As my sister (who is a vegetarian) mentioned, she has a T-shirt that says, "Eat like you give a damn!" Well, do everything that way! Live like you give a damn.

I have no napkin-folding pictures, but let me share some others.
Me and sis with the birthday boy and his wife, Han (If you wonder about my dad's expression, he later mentioned that he hadn't had any coffee all day, so we went on an emergency coffee run. We are serious caffeine people.)
Here's mi familia at the dinner table. At the time of this picture, it is pre-dinner and the napkins are wrapped around the silverware (serviceable, but far from aesthetic).

Here's my son's latest fun project, a website he is making:
I feel that I should post a number of disclaimers here ... it's a teenage boy's idea of a wonderful website, I don't think there is anything blatantly illegal on it (though quite likely immoral), and yes we are fairly permissive about computer use and the Internet, though I am constantly debating myself about whether to change course and severely restrict this evil entity from our household and become Amish once and for all, and oh -- back to website warnings, be careful what you click on. I haven't looked it over in great detail. I do like the joke about the perfect man and the perfect woman (scroll down to view).

1 comment:

  1. Julie,
    What a beautiful day you had! "an unplanned hiccup" - I love that expression.

    So great about your sister and the Sun magazine. We are also going to give it to friends of our this holiday.

    Oh, and the paper folding thingies that you are talking about are called cootie catchers :D


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