Sunday family dinners are the best memories from a childhood. The whole clan is together. The women are in the kitchen catching up and preparing enough food for the neighborhood. The men are in the garage bragging about their latest accomplishment. And the kids are running around the yard working up an appetite and having the time of their lives. Yes, these Sunday dinners are a wonderful memory.
As I mentioned on Monday when talking about my grandma, we often had these family dinners. Piles of fried chicken, mountains of mashed potatoes, and almost anything else you could think of. As all of us kids got older as well as my grandma, Sunday dinners prepared by my grandma with the help of my mom and aunts turned into Sunday potlucks. My grandma still made the main course and everybody else brought everything else. The women still hung out in the kitchen catching up, the men were still in the garage bragging, and the kids were still running around outside having the time of their lives.
As I look back on these family gatherings, I realize that it was never about the food. Of course, we all had to eat but we could have had bologna sandwiches at home. No, it was about the family. It was about the camaraderie, the catching up, bragging, and just having the time of our lives.
My parents and I lived a little further away from my grandparents than my other aunts and uncles. So for us, it was about catching up, about staying in contact with those people who, for my mom, was used to seeing every day. A couple of my aunts and uncles moved very far away but we wanted to stay as close as possible to those who were in the area. As for me, I was an only child who lived in the middle of nowhere – at least it seemed that way to me. So these family Sunday dinners were a chance to play with other kids. It was a chance to be a part of something bigger than my isolated reality.
These dinners represented my chance to connect with the outside world, my chance to see what life was life outside of my isolation. It was also my chance to learn about what family really is – the first ones to knock you down when you do something wrong and the first ones to pick you up when someone else knocks you down. They are the ones who know the real you – your imperfections, your faults, your wrongdoings – but love you anyway.
The food was delicious – my grandma and aunts are the best cooks in the world, in my opinion. But the real memory of these Sunday dinners was not of the food but of the time spent with people who would do anything and everything they could for you. The memory is in the heart-to-heart talks, the scolding’s, the laughter, playing Monopoly at the dining room table, playing in the row boat sandbox, the mini-tractor pulls across the street from my grandparents’ house, sitting on grandpa’s lap and his cast iron skillet shaped ash tray, and, of course, the rabbits – the ones in the cages along the side the garage and the ones we ate thinking it was chicken.