When I was little, probably around six, I sat at a dinner table with my parents and three older sisters. I was youngest by five years, the only boy, and — if I dare say so myself — a breath of fresh air.

(Frankly, I do dare say so myself, because my parents and sisters rarely glance at Net Cotton Content. Go figure.)

Well, dinnertime attempted to produce an American Tableau, Norman Rockwell meets Father Knows Best.

My father (of blessed memory) would have already come home, changed out of his suit and tie and into a sport coat and tie. He’d drink a Scotch with his loving spouse, my mother, and we’d all sit down to dinner in a big formal room.

You might wonder how my father landed on a planet where he came home to three chores: change a suit for a sport coat, pour and drink Scotch with a loving spouse, and sit down to a home-cooked dinner surrounded by adoring daughters and a breath-of-fresh-air son. However did my father feel entitled to this?

In later years, I learned that my father suffered from depression for much of his life. I think this proves that depression is a disease, rather than a lifestyle choice. A fellow comes home to love, Scotch, more love, and a breath of fresh air — and he’s depressed? That’s not a choice. That’s a curse.

Dinner was, for my father, encouraging.

Don’t Encourage Him
Sure, Dad found his encouragement, I hope, at dinner.

But most dinners, as I recall, included some moment when the children were convulsed in laughter. And it usually started and always ended with me. Either I made them laugh in the first place. Or someone else did the favor and I snorted and squealed to the bitter end.

The bitter end was my mother telling my sisters to stop laughing, which is surely a fool’s errand. She’d say, “Stop that. You’re only encouraging him.”

I remember the last time she said that. It was when I responded: “What’s wrong with a little encouragement?”

I mean, really. Such a comment — “don’t encourage him” — certainly registers on the radar screen of any psychologist. But I’m over that. Or am I? Are we ever?

So Encourage Me
After 18 months of blogging here, and six months of blogging nearly daily, readership is at an all-time high. That’s a delight. Thanks for the encouragement.

Comments on the blog are coming in at a nice pace. That’s also nice. Thank you, dear commenters.

I also hear from readers through email. That’s private. And also nice.

Because more readers would be even nicer, here is a request for you to spread the word.

Please take a moment to send the link to Net Cotton Content to a friend (or all your friends).

Don’t get me wrong. If you were my only reader, that would be enough. But if the readership doubles because each of you bring a friend?

I’m not above that.

Update: Eventually my sisters left the house, so my mom yelled at the dog.