Dinner With the Smileys

Dinner With the Smileys

One Military Family, One Year of Heroes, and Lessons for A Lifetime

Book - 2013
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Fifty-two guests take turns filling a military father's chair at his family's dinner table while he serves his yearlong deployment.

The week before Thanksgiving 2011, Dustin Smiley left for a yearlong military deployment. Soon after, his son Ford, eleven, invited Senator Susan Collins to fill his dad's chair at dinner. On January 3, 2012, Senator Collins came to dinner ... and brought brownies.

So began Dinner with the Smileys , nationally syndicated columnist Sarah Smiley's fifty-two-week commitment to fill her husband's place at the family dinner table with interesting people--from schoolteachers to Olympians, professional athletes to famous authors, comedians to politicians--and unique role models for her three sons, even as she knows Dustin's seat cannot truly be "filled" until he is home again for the fifty-third dinner.

Why dinner? Because dinnertime is often the loneliest time for people living alone. If houses and apartments were like dollhouses with one side totally exposed, Sarah says, we'd see plenty of people eating alone to the glow of a television.

That was the fate Sarah feared for herself and her children during Dustin's absence. So she opened her home, and she and the kids sent invitations. And they found that a surprising number of people really are available for dinner. You just have to ask.

In a time when popular culture leads us to believe that the family dinner table is dead, Dinner with the Smileys shows people that time spent with family, friends, and neighbors is still very much part of the American lifestyle.
Publisher: New York :, Hyperion,, [2013].
Copyright Date: 2013
ISBN: 9781401324872
Branch Call Number: LC DLC
Characteristics: viii, 359 pages :,illustrations, photographs ;,22 cm
Additional Contributors: Hand, Andrea - Photographer


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Jan 19, 2017

My husband and I read a chapter at a time in the evenings one winter. Having raised three sons ourselves, Sarah's touching story brought back memories. We laughed and cried with her and it is one of my "Top 10" non-fiction books. Raises awareness for military families as well as for using creativity to face hard situations. What Sarah did most people can do with the right attitude - a priceless gift to your children if you do.

Mar 21, 2014

What an inspiring idea to invite others to your home for dinner during the time your husband is away serving our country. What about inviting service people to dinner from the base as a gift in return. It is something I could try even though the base is an hour away?

Jun 08, 2013

The idea of being a single parent to a family of three young boys for over a year is something that would cause most parents dread. But this story of a navy pilot's wife coping with the empty chair at the dinner table by hosting different people around her and then writing about it is extremely well written. Humourous, inspiring and honest in failures and victories.

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