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Finding fun during the coronavirus crisis, Montreal family holds nightly themed dinners

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Quebecers have been in social isolation for almost two months now and to break up the monotony, one Montreal West family has been hosting themed dinner parties -- for themselves. Global's Amanda Jelowicki has the story – May 7, 2020

You’d be hard-pressed to find a family enjoying their COVID-19 isolation time more than the Rochford family in Montreal West.

They’ve turned once mundane and redundant family dinners into fabulous themed costume parties, night after night.

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“There are stresses going on, but it’s something to look forward to at the end of the day when it’s all-hands-on-deck for dinner,” Marilyn Meikle said.

The idea came about at the end of March. A few weeks into confinement, Marilyn Meikle’s two children, 20-year-old Julie Rochford and 26-year-old Katie Rochford, moved back home. Katie’s boyfriend Cullen Petersen also moved in.

They took turns cooking dinner each night. Julie had seen a themed dinner post on social media, and decided to try it at home. She created a French bistro, complete with a chef’s hat, white dinner tablecloth service and an inspired menu.

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“I saw a family doing theme nights, and I thought if I could do this, maybe quarantine will be more sane,” she said.

The family has never looked back. They have done an Alice in Wonderland dinner with tea cakes and teacups, a Halloween dinner, a camping dinner and a Taco night.

“We convinced my parents to park the van on the street and then we decorated it, we made a menu, and we served tacos from the van. It was fun,” said Katie Rochford.

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Kevin Rochford, Meikle’s husband, says he works all day in the basement, then comes upstairs a half-hour before dinner and finds out what the theme is.

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“I thought I could wear sweatpants, now we have to get dressed up every night for dinner,” he says, laughing.

“For about an hour every night we get to laugh hysterically and eat something fun.”

Meikle says they spend less than an hour each day getting ready for the party. All the costumes come from items in the home, and sometimes they make props. They try and pair the food to the theme when possible. For an upcoming Frozen night, they will have blue jello for ice. For a Montreal night, they had Schwartz’s smoked meat.

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‘It is not overwhelming, anybody can do it, anyone can have fun. Get some construction paper, make some props, have a go at it, it’s a blast,” Meikle says.

The family are posting their exploits on social media, and they are garnering a loyal following.

“People are writing, ‘I can’t wait to see what you are doing tomorrow night, this is a bright spot in our day, thanks so much for sharing this.’ That’s what I like to see,” Meikle said.

The children are enjoying all the family time, and say it helps break up the boredom of the long days.

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“I think it gives us something to do. It’s fun to channel our anxieties and our energies into something that makes us happy. It feeds us,” Katie said. “I didn’t think I would move back home at 26 and I have for a short period of time, and the few months we have been here altogether is invaluable.”

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The family understands that all their posts featuring Christmas parties in May and game show nights on social media may raise some eyebrows.

“I would say, anyone who calls our family wacky or kooky or out there, they are 100 per cent correct, and I would say it’s a compliment,” Julie said, laughing.

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Meikle’s kids want to keep going when confinement ends, because they say family dinners have never been more fun.

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