Sunday Dinner

by Stefani on 8-January-2010

You may have noted that I am big on tradition. The little threads of ceremony that define the fabric of my children’s upbringing and the substance of our family, the little things that help us all to remember what it is that is important to us…. well we have a lot of  such traditions and each of them is precious to me.

Traditions are arrived at by many roads. Some we are carrying on, or resurrecting, from our own childhoods. Some are created with intention in order to firm up some special idea or belief in the minds of the little hearts in our care. Some traditions though, some just come about all on their own, or evolve in unexpected ways.

Sometimes I think those last ones are the the sweetest. Those traditions that become habit without any forethought, completely uncontrived, seem somehow to have an extra helping of meaning. They express who our family is, and what we hold dear, in such a pure way.

One such new tradition for us is what my boys have deemed, “Fancy Sunday Dinner.” Each Sunday we clean and polish, bake and make beautiful, and then when night falls we eat in the dining room (“the fancy table”), with the best dishes and candlelight. For the first time since I wore a white dress and walked down the aisle to trumpet fanfare,  my china is in regular use! I am so glad. It is nice to know that something lovely and special from our wedding is not just gathering dust, but coming to be lovely and special to our children.

This all began during Advent, when we purposefully made Sundays special celebrations, but we loved the idea and practice of it so much that on the last Sunday of advent we all agreed that we didn’t want special Sunday dinners to come to an end.

So each Sunday, and sometimes even beginning on Saturday, special food is made. It’s the one day a week that we make a serious, REAL dessert. Each boy gets his turn at deciding what it should be and helping to make it.

Bakers Two

Pie Maker

Bread dough rises, as do special prayers for the blessings of the week past and in hope for the week to come.

The Bread Is Rising

Silky napkins are put in laps and little boys are reminded to become gentlemen if only for a little while. We tell them that one day they’ll thank us when they are at a nice dinner, wishing to make a good impression on the stern-faced father of the girl that they hope to marry. They roll their eyes and say, “Oh gross!” but I notice that they sit up straighter and ask “brother will you pass the butter please?” ever so politely.

If nothing else Sunday has come to be a celebration of us. I hope that my boys are learning that the simple gift of family love, another week of being happy and healthy together, is worth celebrating with every good thing we have, because it IS every good thing that we have.

"Fancy Dinner"

Happy weekend to you all. We’ll see you back here next week!

Tammy January 8, 2010 at 10:39 am

I love seeing other mothers take the time to share these family moments with their little ones. All too soon, they will be up and out of our homes starting their own families. I pray that our little ones will return to their homes for these special moments no matter how “grown” they get.

Stefani January 8, 2010 at 10:58 am

Oh you are so right. I have thought about adding up the number of Sundays we have together before they graduate high school, but I’m too chicken to do it.
I’m so hoping that they will look back on these times fondly and want to return for them and recreate them in their own homes. Or… they might just tell their wives how I drove them clean nuts trying to teach them table manners. 🙂

jody January 8, 2010 at 10:41 am

Lovely! We celebrate Shabbat on Friday nights and we do similar things. Fresh challah bread is made, candles are placed on the table, we pray meaningful prayers of thanksgiving and blessing upon our kids.
Due to life getting busy, home reno’s etc. this has sometimes been neglected. When I read your post it reminded me how special and sacred this needs to become once again in our home.
I am new to your blog and happened upon it because we are considering homeschooling our children. I have really enjoyed your writing and lovely pictures!!

Stefani January 8, 2010 at 11:01 am

It really is rather like a Shabbat celebration, or our own version of it, and “sacred” is just the right word. It is as though we take an ordinary even and elevate it, celebrate it in a way that helps us to remember that ordinary family events ARE so special and fleeting. I know life can get away from you sometimes, but I do hope that you find a way to revive your traditions.
And WELCOME to the ranch! I’m so glad that you’re here. Please don’t hesitate to ask questions on the homeschooling front when/if you need to. I know it can be a daunting thing to consider.
Blessings to you!

Aimee January 8, 2010 at 11:11 am

love it. love it when an unexpected loveliness enters our lives like that. i always *mean* to prepare for Sunday on Saturday but unfortunately it gets set aside for other projects. this post inspires me to elevate something to the Sacred on Sunday…for us, it may be our breakfast!

Stefani January 8, 2010 at 9:53 pm

I think that an elegant, big breakfast would be a WONDERFUL way to start the day! … of course it will never happen here. I can’t remember my name in the morning, let alone make anything at all sacred!

stephanie from texas January 8, 2010 at 11:12 am

beautiful post. sunday dinners (actually mealtime) have always been important to me. i love the sweet ceremony of it. the time and care of choosing the menu, cooking for my family. giving them a piece of me each week as a gift to fill their stomachs and their souls. we pull out my emily post and try different place settings, lovely candles, and sometimes Bach in the background. kudos to you for sharing your traditions and surely inspiring us all.

Mama Urchin January 8, 2010 at 12:01 pm

We do Sunday dinner with my parents and siblings. We don’t use the china but I know when they are grown the urchins will remember the loud raucous of our clan and know that all those people are thinking about them and loving them all the time.

Stefani January 8, 2010 at 10:05 pm

Oh I think that’s a wonderful tradition. That feeling of being a part of something, of being one of the clan, that will carry them far!

Lise January 8, 2010 at 12:29 pm

Beautifully said and photographed. Thanks for the reminder of the importance of celebrating the everyday.

Cassandra January 8, 2010 at 12:54 pm

I too love tradition (but maybe you already knew that ;)! I love special dinners around the table. I remember them fondly. Dinnertime is family time at our house.

Love that you’re back here regularly. I missed you this summer…

Katie January 8, 2010 at 1:51 pm

I love this tradition. My maternal grandmother had a nice Sunday dinner each week, and my mom, her eight siblings and their spouses and children attended. That was so special to me growing up.
We now do that with my parents each Sunday.
Love your blog, very inspiring!

Visty January 8, 2010 at 1:59 pm

Okay, I’m going to start this. Maybe even this Sunday, after Daddy leaves for a week long business trip and all Littles will be sad. Does this mean I get to go to the thrift store and look for a kick ass candelabra?

Stefani January 8, 2010 at 9:51 pm

Oh yes, that is PRECISELY what this means!

Brittany January 8, 2010 at 2:26 pm

Love this! I love that your boys are learning to be gentle men too. This doesn’t seem an important value in our culture anymore. All I ever seem to hear is “he’s all-boy” or “boys will be boys” but no, boys WILL be men and need to learn to act the part. Thank you for this inspiration, I’m off to figure out what our special Sunday dinner will be. 🙂

Stefani January 8, 2010 at 10:03 pm

Oh Brittany, I hear you. I think that it’s awfully hard for young men today to find clear direction. It seems like a good solid vision of what it means to be a man, or at least aspire to become one, is hard to come by. In fact it seems like most of society’s messages about manhood are rather derogatory or, at best, condescending.
Words like honor, valor, diligence, respect and duty have fallen out of fashion for sure, but we’re doing our best around here to keep them alive and to raise young men that take those words to heart.
I figure this can go one of two ways… they will become impeccable gentlemen, or else they will one day have great stories to tell about all their mama and daddy’s silly notions. I guess likely it’ll wind up a bit of both!

Toni January 8, 2010 at 2:31 pm

That is great! I wish AWANA didn’t fall on Sunday night! I miss having the Sunday dinner without the rush of putting it all together. Now we always have what we call the Famous Sunday Lunch! It is a special lunch time for us. :o)

Stefani January 8, 2010 at 10:08 pm

Well that’s what you get, dear, for selflessly volunteering your time! But I’m so glad that you, and all the others, do it. Without you all, I wouldn’t have those lovely couple of hours on Sunday afternoons in which to run errands, clean up and finish dinner!

LaughingFamily January 8, 2010 at 3:56 pm

I adore this idea! Sunday nights are (by tradition in my childhood home) dinner free. It is a night of grazing, snacks, popcorn for a meal (so special for kids and adults alike), etc. However, I’m thinking that Monday may be a good option for us. I can prepare things on Sunday, and we can enjoy a slow, relaxing (finger’s crossed) dinner after returning to work, school, etc. I’m envisioning classical music in the background as well! After all, if we are going to be fancy, let’s go all out!

Lindsey Alyce January 8, 2010 at 7:28 pm

Oh, this is so wonderful! I’ve always wanted to have nice Sunday dinners be a family tradition, but it never became a habit when it was just the two of us eating. Once our little one is older, I hope it becomes a part of our lives, too. 🙂

Kristin January 9, 2010 at 7:53 am

I’ve been reading and enjoying your blog for awhile now, and had to comment today. Thank you for the reminder of a special Sunday dinner! We started a similar tradition — Fancy Dinner Night — a couple of years ago. On Sundays, my husband who loves to cook would get a chance to spend time in the kitchen, sometimes with helpers and sometimes without, making a “gourmet” meal. We set the table with fancy china and napkins, lit candles and enjoyed our meal together. Sunday nights would also be Fancy Dessert Night — sometimes we would make something special, other times, it was a chance to have ice cream with chocolate sauce! Various activities and hectic schedules have made it difficult to have Fancy Dinner Night recently…. but after reading your post, I want to find a way to bring it back — maybe another night, or maybe just a bit more planning and preparation… thank you for the reminder and inspiration!

Kate @ Life As I Live It January 9, 2010 at 10:38 pm

I love it! Unfortunately, with my work schedule I work every other weekend (3-11:30pm). On the nights I’m home we do sit down to dinner as a family, but I love the idea of using candle and special dishes. (Too bad I don’t have any! LOL) Maybe what I’ll do is designate a night each week our Special Family Dinner night and each family member takes a turn deciding what the menu will be. Hmmm…that might work!

Thanks for the idea and for sharing your traditions. Love ’em.

Carol January 10, 2010 at 11:05 pm

What a lovely post This may just spur me to start something similar as I feel on the hunt for family traditions too. I won’t pass any special dishes to the baby, who will promptly throw them on the floor, but he could still enjoy some special lovingly made food on his high chair tray.

Nancy January 12, 2010 at 2:30 pm

We do this too on Sundays – make a big dinner. For me, it’s a perfect way to end a weekend and begin a new week. Someday their future wife will thank you for teaching them how to be gentlemen too.

Jennifer January 14, 2010 at 12:41 pm

For a while now, our family goes over to my mom’s for Sunday lunch. It’s a great time of eating and playing, laughing and always big portions of dessert for the kids.

Eren February 8, 2010 at 5:35 am

Hello my friend…love, this little glimpse of the polished, yet still all boy, these little men are growing to be. What a good mama you are. So excited to see your beautiful face over at [simple mom]. I’ll be hanging out there a bit more in the days to come too.

Much love sweet mama.

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