Monday, March 10, 2014

What Happens When You Tell Jiminy Cricket To Shut Up? I Have Fewer Pans To Wash!

Now that I'm Old and a Recovering Catholic, I've pretty much given up Guilt.  It's kind of my permanent Lent offering, except that I'm not sacrificing anything, I'm still eating meat on Fridays, and hey, if a Pope can just up and quit his job, doesn't that kind of render Lent a moot proposition anyway?

I remember the first day I began to part ways with Guilt, and I've documented it here.  As I aged, Guilt got quieter and more reticent.  Instead of lurking in every corner of my conscience, ready to tsk with disapproval, it simply sat there, silent and weary.  Years of middle child syndrome, battles with weight and body image, motherhood, and teaching had made Guilt an impotent shadow.  At fifty-four, retired, and at long last relaxed, I find that it's been relatively easy to let go of Guilt.  Most of its origins are gone, anyway.

There are times, however, that I feel A Little Bit Bad when I do something.  Not so much Guilty, just kind of like a kid does when he sneaks a cooky or like a teenager does when he exploits a loophole in a rule.  That sort of What The Hell attitude.  Or, as today's question asks:

What is your guilty pleasure?

 I wrote about this once before, too, a long time ago, here.  But that was almost eight years ago.  Things can change in eight years, and for me they have.

My Number One Guilty Pleasure is One-Bowl dinners in front of the television.  Doesn't that sound awful and disgusting, like a dog or something?  Or like we are these hideous Neanderthals, hunkered down over huge, heaping bowls of hash-like mashed food, shovelling it into our maws while watching Wheel Of Fortune.  Ugh.

But it's not like that at all.  Once, I made lemon orzo topped with a mixed baby greens salad and roasted shrimp drizzled with lemon vinaigrette.  Or I make a nice stirfry with chicken or beef and a lot of fresh vegetables over rice.  Or campanelle pasta with ham and asparagus and asiago cheese dressed with sage and mushroom olive oil.  Or grilled steak salad with balsamic vinaigrette (homemade, of course).

After twenty-plus years of cooking full course meals for the boys and all of us sitting at the table every night--which we all loved, don't get me wrong--it's nice to have such casual meals for just Rick and me.  And cleanup is so easy.

But my guilt stirs every so often because we aren't at the table, like civilized people.  I'm not serving separate meat, veg, starch, salad.  I mean, when we lived at home and ordered pizza for dinner when Dad was working the 3-11 shift, St. Patsy always made a veg and a salad!  With carryout pizza!

Do you see how deep it goes?  Save me.

Ever since we became Empty Nesters, Rick and I have really appreciated a more streamlined, simpler life.  We eat dinner and watch the news.  We chat and laugh.  Simple pleasures.  What could be wrong with that?



  1. I offer no apologies for watching silly television every evening. Between my regular day job and our horse training business, I work a lot of hours every single day (usually 70+ hours a week), so when we get home, we watch our favorites while eating dinner. No table, just the couch and the remote. Suits, Person of Interest, The Amazing Dr Pol, The Big Bang Theory, Strikeback, True Detective, Monsters Inside Me, and many others. It's my little window of relaxation time and I've earned it.

  2. I may have mentioned before that I don't watch much TV - not for holier-than-thou reasons, just because I didn't really grow up watching it(nothing to watch in English in Asia in the late 60s/early 70s) and it's never become a habit -even less so now in Korea, where watching anything in English requires logging into Netflix or Hulu or Amazon Prime and slogging through menus. I'd rather just open a book. However, on weekends, when MrL is home (he spends weeknights in another city, except for Wednesdays, when he doesn't get home until late anyway) one of our major pleasures is sitting down in front of the TV on Sunday evening and enjoying a meal together. We catch up on our favorite sitcoms, John Stewart/Stephen Colbert, or a drama. It's very relaxing, very pleasant,keeps all of us in touch with some US pop culture, and one of the highlights of my week. Honestly, I think it's often probably better quality time than those dinners at the table...

  3. MsCaroline--And Rick and I usually watch M*A*S*H during and after dinner, which is set in South Korea! How funny!

    We cut the cable quite some time ago, and we've not been sorry. UNTIL we remember days of CNN and MSNBC for quick news recaps. Lately, however, most of it is so strident that I guess we really don't miss it.

    LaFF--I hear you. We love Big Bang, Modern Family, and The Millers for a good laugh. I don't feel guilty at all for watching television and knitting in the evening. I watch no TV during the day, and it's always nice to be entertained.

  4. Our child is still at home, so we still eat dinner at the table. I have no issue with a one bowl meal, as long as it is filling and has enough vegetables. That's all I care about. Will we be hungry in an hour? Did we get our nutrition? If yes, then it's all good.

    Once in awhile, the three of us will sit down in front of the TV for dinner, but at this point it's a semi-rare occurrence. It limits conversation, and conversation with teens is so important, since after dinner they run off to their room or out the door. Before she was born, or when she ate dinner hours before we did, we often ate dinner in front of the TV. Almost every night, actually. We'll see what happens when she flies the coop.

  5. J.--Absolutely correct that dinner at the table with your child is paramount in importance. When the boys come home, we eat at the table. As a matter of fact, Jared insists on it (unless a game is on, naturally). And when the boys bring their girlfriends, we haul out the bigass diningroom table and we all sit around it for hours, eating, talking, laughing, and enjoying each other's company. You cannot do that with a television on.

    We still tease the boys about the rule of "No toys at the table." They (and we) leave phones elsewhere when we eat. Sam, as a young child, used to get so tired and bored at dinner time. Jared, who loves conversation and eating, used to take a very long time at dinner, chatting and eating seconds and thirds when Sam had been long ago finished with his meal. Sam would sneak a toy car and slyly play with it on his seat or on the windowsill. He would be in trouble every time. Finally, we allowed "Table Resting." Sam could put his arm and head down on the table while he waited for everyone (read, Jared) to finish. I can't count how many times he fell fast asleep.


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