To the extent that we are able, our family eats dinner together every night, sitting around the kitchen table and sharing the events of the day.  On Friday nights, at our Sabbath dinner, we linger over dessert and reflect on “happy things” from the entire week.  Sometimes I forget how unusual our family is, and how fortunate my spouse and I are to be parents of three kids whose ages are now in the double digits but who are still willing to make pleasant conversation over dinner every night.

Recently, as I was sharing my news that had agreed to post a piece I’d written, I remarked how much I appreciate my son’s willingness to be fodder.

“What’s fodder?” he asked.dictionary 1957

“Look it up,” I replied.

Oh. My. God.

I have become my mother.

When I was my son’s age, I was also interested in words and would read any book I could find, including the dictionary.  We had an enormous, Webster’s unabridged version. Its cover was falling off from its constant use during Scrabble games and conversations like this one.  According to my memory it weighed at least ten pounds, but on Amazon its shipping weight is listed at slightly over one and a half.

My son jumped up from the table and headed to the living room shelf while the rest of us discussed the relative merits of online dictionaries and reference books on Microsoft Word.

He returned with our equally weighty American Heritage version and quickly thumbed to the E-F section.

dictionary current

“You’re going to feed me to livestock?!”

“Keep reading,” I told him. “What’s the second entry?”

“Raw material, as for artistic creation.”

“There you go,” his father said. “We are all fodder for your mother’s writing.”

“Yes, that’s the one,” I reassured him.


Whether my accounts of our family dinners are instructive or enlightening to anyone else is arguable.  Still, I consider myself lucky to have such nutritious feed available on a daily basis.


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