I Apologize in Advance

My family and I are not fancy people. In fact we are the opposite of fancy….I guess that would be unfancy.

Our house is humble and our belongings meager but every night we gather round our dining room table for a hot meal and I wish I could tell you that we share special family time that resembles something straight out of a Norman Rockwell picture.

Unfortunately it resembles something more along the lines of a 3 ring circus.

I ring the dinner bell at 5:00 every night and usually serve up one of my famous casseroles. I give them names like “Melissa’s Surprise” or “Mama’s Jubilee.” I get groans and moans as everyone gets an eye of the collaboration I have come up with and the only surprise it includes is what vegetable I have sneaked in.  We commence the meal by filling our mismatched plates and then the true colors of our family come out.


Everyone begins talking over one another and the din of the room shakes the light fixture ever so slightly. There are elbows on the table and people are talking with their mouths full. I usually tell an inappropriate story like the other day when I told them the dentist said while performing my root canal that my tooth spewed out an oozy mess of blood and pus. This made my husband shake his head, cringe and say, “Really Melissa?” which then set off a laugh fest around the table. I always forget proper dinner story etiquette. By this point my 5 year old Bency has made an elaborate artistic creation out of peas and noodles, my 7 year old Iris has made a mess all over her face and the floor because she’s too busy talking to see that the food enters her mouth properly and over the plate and 2 year old Cesar is still in a fit of laughter over the story I told which he clearly didn’t understand while he wipes sauce through his hair.

This is our reality and the other night I looked around and really took it in. We are a mess of a family. A true disaster at proper table manners. And then a terrible thought crossed my mind….

I am constantly talking to my children about doing good deeds, helping others out and being a true benefit to society. The things we do as a family are on a small scale as far as contributing but what if one of us truly does something amazing someday? What if we do something so spectacular and heroic that it makes national news? What if the President of the United States wants to honor us by inviting us to dinner at the White House or The Queen of England wants to have us for tea?


After much pondering on this subject I have come to the conclusion that our chances of being invited to the White House are slim but if somehow this would happen I will simply write a note:

Dear Mr. President,

Thank you so much for inviting us into your lovely home and having us over for dinner. I apologize in advance for our poor table manners and crude sense of humor. We truly are nice people. I am also enclosing $500 to pay for the white linen table cloth I am most certain we will stain, all the milk we spill, the plate we break and the carpeting we will ruin. You may also need to dry clean your suit after you pee your pants from all the laughter or shock we create!


That really nice family with very poor table manners

57 responses

  1. You’re not alone! If we can make it through a meal with Little A in good spirits, I count it a victory (hard time of day; tired; hungry; brother knows how to push her buttons; Mommy nagging her to eat more x, y, or z). Tables get wiped, dishes get washed, floors get swiffered, mouths get cleaned…what a blessing it is to gather round a table *together* for a hot meal!! I love your humor because I can so closely relate! Have a great dinner…–Alison

  2. You have a beautiful family! It sounds a lot like our dinner times. But you know what? I don’t think a lot of kids even eat with their parents these days, so we are doing something right!

  3. You ought to be around here Melissa,I have the twins both wanting to sit on my lap wondering which one is my bad knee,fisticuffs start because they don’t want to hurt me.Then we get laughing because I usually tell them about the time Aunt Lori ate her cheese only after she drove it around the table and their dad is telling us we are animals.Then we get to decide if everybody ate enough of the good food to see if they can have something that rots their teeth.Sigh, and it only happens about three times a week.I just love it! Blessings and everybody said AMEN.

  4. Yeah, RIGHT! You sound like what a normal family should be like. I have memories of “take your elbows off the table”, “chew with your mouth closed”, occasionally being kicked under the table or pinched by my mom for ‘having bad manners’. Do I remember any happy meal times as a youngster? I think not. Anyway, about the dishes, mismatching is ‘IN’. We use all the mismatched dishes I can find so as not to give my grandchildren paper plates and paper cups. I want them to remember eating out of real dishes! All the dishes have stories of who gave them to me or where I found them.
    Love your posts all the time, Melissa!

    • Thank you so much! It’s funny you should mention that about the dishes. All of my plates are mine except for one…it was my Grandma’s. It’s white with little bluebirds on it and it is the most cherished plate. I have to switch it day to day between the two older kids because they both want that plate!!!

  5. OK good. Glad it’s just not my family! I’ll might be able to top you in some aspects – I’ve never served anything but a snack by 5:00, and before laying dinner on the table (usually around 7 p.m.) I take on arm and sweep the debris that has accumulated on the table to one side.

    • Oh gosh Joyce, you are one busy gal with driving the kids here, there and everywhere. It’s amazing that you even get dinner on the table at all and that it is the incredible stuff you make! When I was still working and had Iris we had plenty of frozen pizzas many of nights!

    • You’re talking about the bowls right? They are the old Pyrex from the 60’s and 70’s! Also, I did a post on my stove I think it was last week or the week before…it was called Show and Tell…it was quite a feat getting that stove and I almost sold it a few years ago but decided to keep it after all! I do love it!

  6. Thanks Melissa for sharing this post. Children like talking the most during meals, and don’t be the one starting the conversation, saying stop talking, or thinks it is funny what they’re doing or talking about because you just give them to go ahead for more made fun time for them. Mtetar

  7. Melissa you should never apologize for your family, its what makes you guys unique and fun and not the better than others. Dinner at your house sound fun and so interesting. We don’t have any children ourselves but we have 5 God children and we’ve have many dinners on a blanket in front of the television. I’ve scooped up more food off the floor than I think they put in there mouths. So much fun, so many memories. The way you share Laughter and Love of food is special to your family and no apologies are are necessary. Enjoy you time with your family, one day you will wake up and they will be graduating and you will wonder where time went. We would like to reserve a seat at your table when we make it to your side of the country. Until then Laugh, Love and have fun…

  8. Melissa, that picture of your dinner table might as well be a snapshot of my own. We use mismatched plates, silverware, and drink soda straight from the can too. The president should only be so lucky to see Cesar wiping sauce through his hair. My little guy does the same thing on spaghetti night!

    • Whew…I am so happy to hear that I’m not as odd as I thought. Here I was thinking that the majority of people were drinking from crystal goblets and eating off of fine china every night while their children sat and ate their supper so nice! Spaghetti nights are extra interesting here…slurping of the noodles and boy can that red sauce stain those kids!!

  9. I second what Anka said. If you could catch my daughter in action at the dinner table, you would be feel a lot better about your brood 🙂 At the end of the meal, everyone is fed, happy, and just spent a chunk of time together that will stay with them years after they’ve all learned to place their napkins on their laps. Loved this post…as always!

  10. Great post. Sounds like most families I know. You can always hope they pick up proper manners, among other useful information, “on the streets”.

    I have to tell you that I almost couldn’t read past where you mentioned that you ring a dinner bell. I was picturing you, out there on the prairie, sporting your calico dress, flour-y apron, and bonnet. For real. A dinner bell?

    • That’s hilarious…I thought the blood and pus comment would have turned you off and not the dinner bell! You know what’s funny about that bell…I got it at a restaurant supply store and it’s the kind that they use in diners (or used to…I don’t know if they still use these..do they?) to alert the waitresses that the orders up! Yes, I truly have a dinner bell!

      • Ohhhh… that kind of bell. Yes. Some restaurants still use them. I used to work at a place that did…. my signal was 3 dings. I used to have nightmares about that f’ing bell. I was thinking it was the other kind of bell, like the one’s the old cooks used to ring to alert the men in the fields that a meal was ready.

        Blood and pus at dinner is nothing new to me. My Grandmother was an ER nurse at a trauma center in Newark — she used to regale of with the gory details of her shift over a fine roast beef.

  11. I am so with you here, my kids and drinks just do not mix, ever! recently my eldest Aimee who is 9 went to a party at pizza hut, when I picked her up the mum even said to me, wow Aimee is clumsy isn’t she???? she’d spilt 3 cokes in a row! xx

  12. ha!ha! Melissa, it looks like our dining table, nothing matches here either 🙂 and lots of talking gets done too, I love listening to my hubby’s stories and my son Nathan loves to pretend he understands by adding words or a laugh, then we laugh and believe me we are very unfancy here too; no table manners ha!ha! 🙂 & Cesar wiping sauce through his hair, happens here too all the time, meanwhile while we are distracted he loves feeding our two dogs and laughs at it! You guys are a beautiful family, beautiful pictures too! 🙂

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