Monday, January 21, 2013

In Praise of Sunday Dinner {5 Lessons I've Learned}

It takes time.  Maybe that's why we overlook it so often.

Sitting down to Sunday dinner is ingrained in me. 

I was fortunate to grow up in the same city as both of my grandmothers.  And sitting down to Sunday dinner was ingrained in them.  They, in turn, ingrained it in their children.  And my parents ingrained it in me.

Even though we honored this tradition in my house growing up, I think I owe most of what I know about hospitality and cooking and serving to my grandmothers.

Lesson #1: You make time for it.

We had Sunday dinner at each of my grandmothers' houses once a month.  The other two or three Sundays we had Sunday dinner at my parents' house.  But it happened.  Every Sunday.

Lesson #2: It doesn't have to be fancy food.  It doesn't have to be pretentious or laborious.  It just has to taste good and make it to the table.

Both of my grandmothers grew up on farms in rural Texas.  Eating out in restaurants daily was not an option the way it has become for our generation.  If you wanted to eat, you cooked.  Food might have been simple on most days, but even simple food can taste fabulous.

Lesson #3: When company calls, you put another bean in the pot.

I have never witnessed either of my grandmothers stressing out about company coming to dinner.  I never saw either of them panicked, worried if there would be enough.  If someone extra showed up to the table, the meal stretched.  It just did.  And with ease.  The iced tea always lasted and there was plenty of dessert to go around.  To this day, I do not have this figured out.  To this day, I cannot for the life of me figure out how these women served their family and friends at their tables on the spur of the moment with such grace.  But I am happy to spend my life trying to achieve their effortless manner.

Lesson #4: There is always dessert.

Again, it doesn't have to be fancy.  It can be a couple of scoops of ice cream (preferably Blue Bell).  But there is always dessert.  Somehow my mom didn't catch on to this one.  ;)

Lesson #5: Sunday dinner is at lunchtime.

I guess it's a Southern thing and something I say without thinking...but when I say Sunday dinner, I mean lunch.  Dinner is the biggest meal of the day.  We eat a big dinner at lunchtime on Sundays, and then have a light, snacky supper in the evening.  Any other day of the week in my house, dinner and supper are synonymous.  But Sundays are a time to slow down and catch up with family and friends.  And, therefore, dinner is a small feast (even if it's a simple feast), so we eat it at lunchtime.

This little man helped himself to 1/3 of that plate of chicken before I even had the rolls on the table.  ;)
It might be different for you and your family.  Preparing and sitting down to eat a big meal for lunch on Sundays might not work with your schedule.  Honestly, it doesn't entirely work with my family's schedule either.  But I'm choosing to continue the tradition.

And I'm encouraging you to try it, too.  If Sundays aren't the best day for a sit down meal, think of what other day might work.  I'm convinced that there is something about the routine and rhythm of getting together once a week to share a meal that cuts through the noise and busyness of our everyday lives, gives our souls a chance to breathe, and gives us pause to enjoy living in the moment we're given.

Need help getting started?  Here are some links to help inspire and motivate you...

All of Edie's 31 Days To a Heart of Hospitality series is good, but her post on Feeding People Well particularly stands out.

Bringing Back Sunday Dinner by Aimee @ Simple Bites

Easy Entertaining by Jan @ Simple Bites

4 Special Entrees @ Southern Living