What happened to Sunday Dinner?
Remember Sunday Dinner? Families would gather together on Sundays and share a big meal. Although, some families do still gather together on Sunday nights to share stories with their relatives over traditional pasta, meatballs, and sauce, this time-honored tradition is on the decline. Another causualty of our very busy schedules.
When my mother was younger, every Sunday my grandparents took her and my aunt to their grandmother’s house. Sadly, I never met my great-grandmother, but my cousins and older sister who were lucky enough to have known her, referred to her affectionately as “Farmer Grandma.” Farmer Grandma was not a farmer nor did she live on a farm. In reality her farm was a big backyard in the suburbs that must have seemed huge and “farm-like” through the toddler eyes’ of the great-grandchildren.
My mother recounts these Sunday Dinners as fun all day eating affairs. The meal began early in the afternoon around 2:00.Courses were many with a variety of delicious dishes. Anitpasto, pasta, meatballs, briaciole are just a sampling of the scrumptious fare they enjoyed. Best of all, the whole family came together.
These bucolic scenes of Sunday Dinner just don’t seem to work as well in modern day society. First of all, who eats like that? Several courses for dinner? I would have blown through a day’s worth of WW points after the first course alone. However, my relatives all survived without any major eating disorders and more to the point seemed to enjoy themselves as well. And the best part all of the relatives came! That would be near to impossible in today’s world. Unfortunately, many of us have to work on the weekends. In addition, our budding athletes have soccer, lacrosse, basketball, and baseball games to be played on fields across the country on Sundays. On any given Sunday you can find yourself at one or more different sporting events.
Although, in my head, where that perfect mother with the perfect hair who makes the perfect meatballs lives, also resides the mom who desperatley wants Sunday Dinners. I love the thought of it! Along with all of my other delusions of grandeur I realize it is unrealistic. Sundays are so hectic and I just want to be home early to get everyone ready for school and work. I start to completely unhinge on Sunday nights and do not think I could handle it. We tried it for awhile with my family but it just didnt’ work.
However, all hope is not lost. I have to work late on most Mondays and don’t get home until around 6:00. My mother decided a few years ago, she would have us over for dinner on Mondays. She was already watching the kids on Mondays and wanted to save me the trouble of getting dinner ready at that hour.
It has become a tradition of our own. We all go to my mother’s for Monday Night Dinner. My sisters and their husbands come whenever they can. It is a modern twist on an old tradition. My children absolutely love Monday Night Dinner and look forward to it every week. It is great for me because I know atleast once a week the girls will eat a home-cooked meal.
Pictured here with my step-father and grandmother
It is not quite the same as the traditional Sunday Dinner. The parents drink water instead of wine and no anisette for the kids. However, it is our tradition and most importantly it works. They family is together and enjoying each other’s company. Although there are fewer courses than my Farmer Grandma’s Sunday meals the food is plentiful with a ton of variety. My mother makes sure there is something for everyone, and of course pasta and macaroni & cheese are always on the menu.
At Monday Night Dinner we play a game called Table Topics. Table Topics is a game comprised of over 100 cards with engaging questions on them. My daughters set one card at each place setting. During dinner we each take turns asking and answering the questions. The discussions that result are both wonderful and hilarious. We have discovered so much about each other and ourselves. Often I am surprised by some of the answers the other relatives give. It really is an eye-opener and you do learn about one another.
The discussions also have inspired my mother and step-father to retell memorable stories from their childhoods. I love for my children to hear these stories, it is priceless. Also, these family discussions have taught my children about our family values and some lessons on life. Sometimes the questions are intense so further explanations are needed and big discussions about life evolve. I adore listening to my daughters answer the questions, after we have explained a big topic. I love the youthful simplified answers. As adults we tend to think and complicate things too much. It takes me forever to come up with an answer.
Here are some sample questions:
- in your opinion what are the seven wonders of the world
- which historical sporting event would you like to witness
- which is more important intelligence or common sense
- if you could do something dangerous just once with no risk what would you do
- where would you choose to live if you had to leave this country
- who would you rather meet your great grandparents or your great grandchildren
Monday Night Dinner a new twist on an old tradition.