When I was a little girl, I remember heading to my Grandma and Grandpa's every Sunday for Sunday Dinner. Sunday dinner occured at approximately three or four in the afternoon and in the winter was held around the giant expanse of dining room table. Whoever was in town was invited, there was always enough to go around. Grandma loved to cook and Grandpa loved to carve a roast. I would stand by as he carved a fresh ham or rib roast and beg for scraps like a puppy. The top of the fresh ham always had little squares scored in it, was rubbed with garlic and salted and peppered to perfection. Grandpa would flick a postage stamp of crispy crackling off and hand it to me dangerously on the end of the carving knife. As the square of fat melted on my tongue, I was in heaven.
But it wasn't just about the food. There were family walks and games in the yard. There were afternoon movies (one showing of The Blob with Steve McQueen left me night-paralyzed with fear for months after). In the summer, the meal was moved to the screened in porch. The glass top table had ironwork around it on which I always remember barking my knees when pulling my chair in. Summer fare, was fresh tomato and basil from Grandpa's garden with olive oil (always Pompeian). There was always dessert, often just ice cream, but we didn't have dessert at home, so this was another big deal.
I don't even know how many times we went to Sunday dinner, but in my memories, they were a fixture in my early childhood. I remember the Sunday we brought our new puppy, Samantha, in a box between my sister and me on the back seat, to show off to everybody.
And now, my kids are making these same memories, thanks to their auntie my sister, who is spearheading this revival of our childhood tradition. They go to their Grammy and Boppa's house for Sunday dinner each week. There are walks with Grammy, exploring the lake and hunting for treasures (rocks and sticks, mostly). There's a room that is mostly an attic that they call "Beantown" because it's where they go on rainy or cold days to get their beans out. Elena calls it "Beanstown" because she doesn't catch the reference to Boston and because she is way more literal, being only six. It's carpeted with an crib and twin mattress. There's a stool for launching from and at guardrail to stop them from rolling off. Sometimes there's a game or we bring our Wii.
Most often there are many generations present at Sunday Dinner. This can make for some politics, but every bit of political unrest is worth it for the traditions we are forging and the memories we are painting.