What’s it like to have someone over for dinner?

There’s a commentary tucked in the middle of Star Tribune reporter Kim Ode’s lovely story of two families in Minneapolis who have been sharing weekly dinners with each other for over 30 years.

They weren’t sure they wanted to talk to a reporter.

We were a little self-conscious about it,” Nancy [Gaschott] said. Would readers misunderstand their motives, think them smug, as if they’d invented sliced bread?

“We talked about what Family Dinner was and what it wasn’t,” Ann said. “Is this an important thing to share, and why?”

In the end, they believe that their story makes a point about community, about being intentional, about being there for others — even about trying new recipes.

“And,” Don [Luce] added, “we realized it had been 30 years.”

The paragraph raises an increasing question in the age of social media which sees a dark world everywhere: Why would anyone tell their story anymore?

Fortunately, they did because in a state like Minnesota — put that old joke here about Minnesotans are willing to give you directions to anywhere but their home — the notion of community — real community is a valuable tale, even if it leaves some of us — ahem — feeling that in 26 years in Minnesota, we’ve never had anyone not connected by marriage or romance over for dinner.

There’s nothing particularly earth shattering about “Family Dinner”, Ode notes.

“When a generation witnesses the security of unconditional friendship, the future seems less formidable,” she says.

  • MrE85

    “The first rule of Family Dinner is you do not talk about Family Dinner.”

  • Ickster

    OK, Bob. You and yours are invited to dinner. Just let me know when is good, and I’ll check with my wife 🙂

  • John

    I’m a native Minnesotan, though I left for a few years (returned to the state because I got a job here). I live about 200 miles from where I grew up, and am on my second city since I came back (the first was a small town an hour from here. The current is a Minneapolis inner ring suburb). In a sense, I’m an immigrant to the areas I’ve lived in my adult life, though not as foreign as, say, some reporter from Massachusetts.

    We have dinner with other folks pretty often. I’d say once or twice a month – people who are not related or romantically involved (though they do tend to have kids that are the same ages as our kids – common ground to meet people, I guess).

    What I’ve come to realize is that the people we socialize/dine with are also non-locals. People who have moved here for work (or other reasons). This was true in the last place we lived as well.

    I don’t know if it’s a uniquely MN thing, but people in this state seem to stay close to the people they grew up with and are related to. It’s nearly impossible to break into those social circles (and I’ve found often not particularly rewarding if you do – you’re always the third wheel/new kid). I think Owen (who hangs around here) said it best: “It’s MN nice, not MN friendly.”

    • Bob Sinclair

      So I heard something on Mike Pesca’s podcast a while back about two types of people, those who are from somewhere and those who are from everywhere (or was it anywhere?). i believe that the conclusion from that was that those from somewhere had closer relationships and those from every (any?) where had less. I certainly can relate with the every (any) where folks and have had to be intentional about the relationships formed.

    • Jerry

      I’ve heard the best way to befriend a Minnesotan is to go to preschool with them.

  • BJ

    I keep hearing this thread about not being invited to stuff. When I’ve lived out of state it was the same I felt left out. So I invited people to my place.

    Maybe because of it, or maybe I always was outgoing (I am outgoing), but once I moved back I especially try to invite those ‘new’ to the area to things.

    • Bob Sinclair

      And that may the key to this is that folks who want a relationship with other folks are very intentional about it.

  • chlost

    Perhaps there should be a Newscut commenters dinner. Your place or mine, Bob?