I handed him his beer and turned to grab mine so that we could toast.

“Cheers,” I said, clinking my bottle neck with his.

“Cheers!” he responded.

And one again I am amazed at this new evolution, this new stage in our relationship.

I enjoy a weekly dinner date with my Dad. Most of the time I have the kid with me. We change up cooking in and going out. It usually depends on who has had a few extra minutes in their week to prepare something ahead of time, because starting a meal from scratch at the end of the workday – and on a school night to boot – isn’t something we’re trying to play at. And if no one has had time, or if we feel like it, we go out.

Guess which option the kid prefers?

(He’d eat my entire salary at a Chinese buffet if given the chance.)

But I like staying in because it means that we can share a beer. Dad always has some beer in his fridge. And don’t think I’m a moocher. I’ve contributed to the six packs that live on the bottom shelf.

It also means that we can relax, put a cartoon on for the kid and not worry – too much – about the time (school nights decree that we can’t stay out late into the night, so I always try to leave latest by 8)…and just talk. We talk about work, about what we did over the weekend, about the silly video we saw online. We talk about whatever.

If you’ve always had a relationship like this with your Dad, be happy. Count yourself among the truly blessed.

I am not one of those people. Dad and I have struggled with our relationship in the past. (My adolescent years weren’t easy on either of us.) So this is new for me – and I’m lovin’ it.

Dinner dates with Dad started sometime time over the summer, and we’ve both been working to make sure that they keep going. We’ve both had to compromise a bit: he eats a later and I add more traveling to my day – but I think it’s totally worth whatever sacrifice to keep the connection alive – and well fed.

And I toast to many more dinner dates with Dad as the months turn into years.