As we lingered around the dinner table after an evening meal, Dad tapped his glass with a utensil and, clearing his throat, announced: “The Taylor family is the best family ever.”
The pronouncement was made as a simple statement, not a proudful boast or brag.
He then challenged us to mimic the moment.
We tried. And missed — again and again.
At least that was what Dad told us, continuing to good-naturedly repeat what we were to follow.
I am the oldest of five siblings, then in my early teens in the early 1970s. I remember us kids continually taking our silverware to our glasses — to the point of nearly shattering them — and trying to adjust cadence and voice inflection each time.
At first, the challenge seemed humorous. We squared our shoulders, confidently tapped our glassware and reiterated that our family was the best ever. Dad would shake his head, smiling.
We soon got a little frustrated — repeating the tap and the eight-word phrase over and over, only to learn we continued to miss Dad’s set standard.
Finally, he deliberately redemonstrated the sequence: Tap, clear the throat — we all groaned for having missed that — and then speak.
Everyone then performed it without fail — the tap, the little cough, the eight words. We repeated it a few times more, pleased to finally match our father’s example.
I don’t know where Dad pulled out that evening’s object lesson — whether from one of the Church’s old family home evening manuals or if he came across it on his own. Whatever the source, Robert E. Taylor was a master teacher — on the college campus and in the home — and his lesson that night was impactful and long-lasting.
It underscored more than just paying attention to details and following an example. The exercise proved to be one of family bonding that remained in our memories for a half-century.
Over the years, the glass tap, the phrase and, yes, the clearing of the throat have surfaced randomly and unexpectedly at some of our family gatherings. Rather than raise a proverbial glass, the Taylors tend to tap it — with a little cough, of course, preceding our pronouncement.
My wife, Cheryl, and I recently visited our oldest son and his family in their Seattle, Washington, suburban home. COVID-19 pandemic precautions and restrictions meant we hadn’t been together for a year — me even longer not having seen them.
We love all of our children and grandchildren and admire the ongoing relationships that continue to be developed and strengthened. Wanting to acknowledge the parenting successes of our son and daughter-in-law and to strengthen their young family, I proposed a little post-meal activity.
I did my best Dad imitation with the glass tap, the subtle throat clear and the phrase, “The Taylor family is the best family ever.” And I smiled, repeating with kind encouragement when the grandkids got two of the three correct — the tap and the statement.
The oldest, 9-year-old Brooklyn, finally caught on to the cough and added it. We worked with all three to perfect the performance, ignoring the time or two when the young ones’ taps and coughs got out of sequence.
I told the three grandchildren the purpose of the activity and shared our hopes — to always remember each child is a key part of a strong, loving family. I suggested they might be reminded of both the activity and the message each time they hear the tapping of a glass.
(However, Cheryl was quick to caution that it might be wise — when hearing such a glass tap prior to a toast at another family’s wedding reception — to not blurt out that your own family is the best ever.)
I related our family history of the activity, retelling when and how it was introduced to us by my father — their great-grandfather, who they haven’t known in this life. To reinforce the teaching moment with my grandchildren, I decided to cold-call a sibling. I reached a brother, Mitch, and told him to listen and say the first thing to come to mind.
I held my smartphone close to the half-filled glass; with a tap of the fork, I created a recognizable ring.
To which, Mitch responded, clearing his throat: “The Taylor family is the best family ever.”
The grandkids couldn’t have been any more impressed than if I were performing magic tricks.
You, too, can announce that your own family — or your relationship, your friendship, your mission, your event, your experiences, your life journey or whatever — is “the best ever.”
Acknowledge it, strengthen it, remember it and celebrate it, for years to come.
You may even try tapping a glass — and a little throat-clearing cough.
— Scott Taylor is managing editor of the Church News.