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Danielle was on the phone defending our non-traditional meals. I heard her explain to a friend, "MY mother is busy working, and we come and go at different times. We just ate what and when we want and share with each other if we are both home and hungry at the same time."

When the children were young and money was scarce, we ate a lot of tortillas and beans together. As we became more affluent we had more choices, but I had learned that what and when the children wanted to eat did not always fit my schedule or idea of a meal. They did not like casseroles, so when I Made one, I had to eat it for days. Hot-dogs or bologna sandwiches every other day didn't do it for me. Sometimes when we were all home at the same time we had a sitdown meal of spaghetti or tacos, foods that we all liked. Danielle had gone through her vegetarian phase, and her "I'm too fat" phase, and on the whole ate better than I did since I was on the road for many meals.

When Danielle hung up after talking to her friend, I remarked, "Your friend didn't sound convinced."

Danielle said, "His mom fixes the meal, and the family all sits down together every night. But he is gay and hasn't told his parents because he knows that they wouldn't understand."

So much for the closeness and quality time of family meals.

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