He got back from work between 5.45 and 6. It was an age before mobile phones and the Internet so there was very little bringing of work home. Once he was home he was all ours. We got back from playing outside around 6. Everyone had a shower before dinner (beside mum who was cooking) and we all pitched in laying the table, getting water and cutlery and condiments. We sat down at 6.30 to eat. My mum cooked up delicious meals and dinner was served. Of course we complained that we had to eat so early and that we didn't have the standard dal chawal fare. Like all children, no matter how good it was, we found something to complain about.
And yet, as a middle aged mother trying to forge small traditions in my own home, those dinners were one of the defining moments of my childhood. Our parents ate with us and we talked, being asked to tell them new or funny or interesting or annoying things that happened in school that day. And they entertained all our questions, told us stuff, encouraged discussions and generally laughed a lot. It wasn't a walk in a sunshiny bluebell field but it wasn't far off. Like any family we had days when any one or more of us were grumpy, stressed, bored, upset. But essentially we had mostly great meals.
Like all families we had numerous little traditions and oddities. This however was the one that I hold most dear. Next time, new traditions we are forging.