I've blogged about Sunday lunch before because its one of the highlights of my week. It's the time my extended family gets together to share a meal and reconnect, keeping our ties strong and our hearts in touch with each others'. But I'm not sure I've ever talked about how it came to be that we have this Sunday tradition.
I don't think it was something my mother ever planned, although we give her credit for it now. In the early days of my marriage, my father would often invite us to stop somewhere for lunch after church on Sunday mornings. But as my children came along and the family grew, eating at a restaurant became more complicated, more expensive, and less fun, so Mom just started saying "Come on over to the house - I made ziti for lunch" and thus began the "Sunday lunch at Mom's" tradition.
Through the years we found our children enjoyed those Sundays as much as we did because there were thirteen cousins and they loved spreading out in my parents big house, breaking into age groups and playing together. We all assumed that when they reached the teen years they'd no longer care about getting together on Sundays but it wasn't so. In fact, as they grew and left for college we were often surprised by a phone call to Mom's house during Sunday lunch. I guess when Sundays rolled around the kids all got a little homesick thinking about the entire family being together at their grandmother's house.
I think Mom saw the value in the Sunday lunch tradition before any of us did because she was pretty adamant about keeping it up through the years. She did all the cooking - usually Italian - but sometimes pot roast or chicken a la king (which was a favorite with the kids). She provided everything from the lasagna and garlic bread to the ice cream for dessert, always remembering personal favorites and often having six or eight cartons of various flavors in the freezer. In the years after my father died it became her Saturday focus to prepare for Sunday lunch. She made her ziti or lasagna and prepared the garlic bread and made sure the dishwasher was run so there would be enough cutlery and plates for everyone. It was only in the last few weeks of her life that we had to step in and help, knowing she wanted to do it herself but sadly could not. When she died we knew we had to keep the tradition going and every Sunday I feel her smiling down on us when we're together.
Unfortunately, none of us has a house as big as hers was and Sunday lunches are a bit more crowded than they used to be. But I don't think any of us minds being shoulder-to-shoulder. I can see now how easy it would be to lose contact with each other without our weekly get-togethers. Our lives are all busy and we travel in different circles, work and social lives taking us in various directions throughout the week. But on Sundays, just as we have for thirty years now, we gravitate toward each other in an almost primal way and find the time to break bread and catch up on our lives.
It's among the basic of all life's pleasures: food and family. And it doesn't get any better than that.