Saturday, May 7, 2016

Mother Daughter Banquet 2016 (and beyond?)

The last mother daughter banquet I attended was when I was so young that I almost don't remember it--so it must have been 1971 or so.  I remember having a special dress and going to a special restaurant.  I don't remember much else.

Through the years, I haven't given this tradition much thought.  I haven't gone to one:  I am not a mother, and my own mother has always been far away.  This year, younger women were in charge of the dinner, and since they were my friends, they invited me to come.  Our church tradition is to have the men staff the kitchen, so this invitation came about because they needed my spouse to help.  I bought a ticket.

It was a lovely evening, and I had arrived at Friday worn out, so I needed a lovely evening.  And it was.  There were families with three generations who arrived.  There were a few people like me, who had no female relatives with them, but who had female friends.  There were people I didn't recognize, as some of our members invited their family and friends.  We even had one male who sat with the females--he had first come to worship last week, and as some of us cleaned up after the event, we wondered what he thought of it all.

We also had one woman who chose kitchen duty with the men.

I confess to feeling some uneasiness at the gendered nature of the event.  It feels very mid-20th century to me, back in that mythical golden age when every family had a mom, who would go to mother-daughter banquets and a father, who would go to father-daughter dances.  Where are the sons in the scenarios?

In our modern age, I think about the single moms who have sons?  I suspect as the baton has passed from the elders who used to run this event to a younger generation in their 40's and 50's, the nature of the event will change.

Hopefully we will ask important questions, like who gets to be seated with dinner served and who does the serving?  Is this a major change?  Is it even important?

And I predict some will scoff at these questions.  Some people might say I'm making too much out of this, that it's just a way to celebrate Mother's Day.  But I would say that we should always be asking ourselves these essential questions, especially about traditions that might seem inviolable. 

I would remind us that these are variations of the questions that Jesus asked:  who serves and who gets to be served and is it always the same?

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