Saturday, January 26, 2008

Sibling Assignment #52: Sunday Dinner

photo by emilybean on flickr
I gave the sibling assignment this week. " Many say what is lacking with families today is that time sitting together at the dinner table discussing the events of the day. Here is your topic: Think of a memorable time when our whole family was gathered at a dinner table and your reflections on that memory." You will find very different conversations around the table from Raymond Pert's here and Silver Valley Girl's here .


We were a family that sat at the kitchen table to eat dinner. I don't ever remember using the TV trays for regular dinner. I think they only came out for holidays,when company came, or when Dad had to watch a certain game on TV. There were certain rituals surrounding dinner. We always ate earlier on bowling night and if Mom had meetings after school we would eat later. Mom did all the cooking when we, the sibs lived at home. As my sister and I got older we were given some of the responsibility. We all had assigned chairs at the table and my brother and I always fought about doing the dishes. At least Dad reminded us of that long after we left home.

Even though dinner was served every night all the family wasn't always there. Dad would work overtime or be on call sometimes. Raymond Pert would be at sports practice. I might be at Camp Fire or play practice. Silver Valley Girl may have been at dancing or tumbling. If dinner was missed Mom always had a plate covered with foil waiting in the oven or canned chili or stew available to be heated up.
Our father was the epitome of pickiness when it came to dinner food. For that reason we never experienced dishes like tuna casserole or lasagna. Leftovers had to be creative. We got to enjoy two French foods: french fries and french dips. If Dad didn't relish the home cooked meal on a given day we always knew it when the peanut butter jar and a loaf of white bread came out at the end of dinner.

Often the conversation was spirited when Mom shared stories about kids at school and we laughed at what happened that day. If Dad had been working lots of overtime the dinner table felt tense and we gulped our food hoping to catch a rerun of Leave It to Beaver or go outside for an after dinner game of hide and seek with the neighborhood kids. Dinnertime at 516 W. Cameron often was a hectic time on any given week.

Things changed on Sunday. Mom and Dad were a bit more rested. There wasn't a rush to get dinner done because of a PTA meeting or Dad taking off for his moonlighting job at the Sunshine Inn. Dad always liked what we had for Sunday dinner. Even after a week of teaching, laundry, cleaning, and keeping us in line Mom often made homemade bread and rolls on Sunday.

The most memorable dinner we had was navy beans cooked in ham and homemade bread. Dad would always say this dinner tasted " just like his Mom's". That made Mom smile. I remember Mom soaking the beans overnight. When I was really young we had one burner on the stove that had a built in pan that sat deeper than the other burners. Mom always used that for the beans. When the burner quit working she still used that same pan on a different burner. Even after crockpots became vogue Mom always made this signature dish on the stove.
There was the strong aroma of yeast as Mom prepared the bread dough. Watching the bread rise on top of the refrigerator was a timetable as to when dinner might be. I knew when she punched down the dough it was getting closer. The smell of the thick beans simmering on the stove and the bread baking in the oven was heavenly. As we waited for dinner we would write our names in the steam that had collected on the picture window in the living room and Dad would watch the last minutes of a sporting event on TV.


While savoring this favorite Sunday dinner Dad would reminisce about his extended family from back east or tell entertaining stories about Aunt Hattie. His favorite was to bring up how much she ate the last time she came to visit from Tennessee. He always talked in a funny southern accent and mimicked Hattie's drawl when he told those stories. Dinner was relaxed. Everyone laughed. We often got an added treat if Mom made Whip and Chill or Jello pudding that she served in cocktail glasses and topped with whipped cream. ( note: That was real whipped cream. Mr. Picky wouldn't hear of Dream Whip or "that stuff in a can".)


Whether it was beans and bread, pot roast, ham (which the bone went in the freezer for the bean dish) , or homemade vegetable soup Sunday dinner was a fine time to gather around the table at my childhood home.
photo by Dazed81 on flickr

6 comments:

Katrina said...

We are not so good at eating around the table together, but it is something I'd like to do more. Some of my favorite conversations happened at our dinner table when I was growing up. Your post has made me decide to make a greater effort to create those family times with my own kids. Thanks!

Inland Empire Girl said...

Even when the sibs get together now we still gravitate to a table. I hope you have some good family times gathering around the table.

Shelby said...

I grew up eating at the table with mom and dad and my sis every single day...

Now - with my family, we're terrible. Eat on the run and at the kitchen bar and on the couch watchin tv. ...even in the bed watching tv... terrible.

I must do better.

Thanks for this.

Yolanda said...

I grew up eating around the table with my family and I miss it.

MarmiteToasty said...

Oh your childhood dinner memories are so wonderful.....

I remember having to sit and not utter a word, it was always a stressful hour, and low and behold if I didnt like something and couldnt eat it....

I remember getting up the following morning after not being able to eat the dinner from the night before and it was placed in front of me cold for breakfast, still couldnt eat it, when I got in from school again it was placed in front of me, now cold and congiled lol..... this went on for 4 days, 4 days with nothing to eat, until on the 5th day I had no choice but to eat it..cos I was just soooo hungry.... no fridges in those days, surprised it didnt kill me LMFAO....

I LOVE sitting around the table with my lads, its not always possible for us all to be there now, what with hectic lives everyone has, BUT its something that I have done with my own kids from when they was tiny.... how else can one have time to sit and talk about the day or any problems etc....

x

Pamela said...

how times have changed. Women really worked hard on keeping the family fed. And many men expected it. I have a cousin who still cooks everything -- even right down to making her husband a sandwich for lunch. I feel so blessed to be married to a guy who can fend for himself!

Whew. Marmite Toasty's dinner sounds absoutely atrocious!!