January is, among other things, National Sunday Supper Month. By the way, the 14th was also National Sunday Supper DAY, which should actually be observed and celebrated every Sunday, of every month. Sadly, Sunday suppers are a fast-fading, family tradition that needs to be revived.
Since the 1970s, with the exception of 2020 (for the widespread Covid restrictions), about half of families have rarely been eating meals together, anymore. About 40% don’t even get together, on a weekly basis, for a good, old-fashioned, family unit, Sunday supper. Bonds undeniably strengthened in 2020, as families shared more meals (and time), together.
The benefits of a traditional Sunday supper (with no electronics present) can drastically change a family’s dynamic. Simply, by intentionally setting aside uninterrupted time for quality conversations, during at least one family meal a week, strengthens household bonds.
Traditionally, it was during the family’s Sunday supper when you’d learn more about your relatives – their personalities, histories, hopes, worries, favorite stories and jokes. The meal was pretty special, too – usually something comforting, that had probably been slow-cooking all day. The food was delicious and heartening, as it was always made with love.
In fact, usually what happens, is that, after dinner, everyone sits around and continues talking and catching up. This is when you can learn the most about your family members. Listen to your grandparents and the stories they have to tell. The wisdom they hold is invaluable. Don’t take these moments for granted.
The best part of a Sunday supper is the quality time that family members spend together, as well as the memories that are shared and the new ones that are made. Not to mention, it allows for bonding between the family members. Plus, extra time spent together in the kitchen, preparing the meal, can also be an added bonus to Sunday supper gatherings, too.
There was a time, in the 19th century, when Sunday suppers were just an ordinary, expected part of life. Comfort food aromas, like a slow-cooked roast or casserole, permeated the whole house, while family members lounged around after church. The tradition seemed to fade with my parents’ generation [aka: Post War (WWII) Generation – born 1928 to 1945].
When I was growing up, my family ate supper together every night, even on Sundays. That’s just how it was. Until we each grew into adults and moved out, on our own.
I don’t remember, as a kid, going to any Sunday suppers, at either of my grandparents’ homes, with my family, unless it was for a special occasion – like their birthdays, anniversaries, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas – and an occasional summer, backyard cookout.
Similarly, I read in Sunday Dinner – The Tradition We Need To Bring Back (May 5, 2019), by Ronnie Koenig, as seen at NBCNews.com:
“We all have busy schedules – errands to run, work to do, kids to shuttle around – but for a few hours that Sunday evening, we decided to take a break from it all. The best part was that it was for no other reason than it being Sunday. It wasn’t anyone’s birthday or graduation, but we were all gathered around the table together.”
Koenig reminded me that (like our own parents – being empty nesters, now) the only times me and my husband have a family, sit-down meal with our adult kids, which is less than once a month, is for those special occasions I mentioned above.
Sunday supper is meant to be an extra special time to connect and conversate with each other, celebrating family-togetherness around the dining table, with no distracting cell phones or “electronics” allowed. Of course those things (cells/electronics) didn’t even exist when I was young, so they were never an issue during our family meals.
With the onset of the industrial age and the soaring costs-of-living, more and more homemakers started working outside the home. That’s about the time that less and less importance was given to family meals and eating together, while more was given to meals “on-the-go” or eating “on-your-own”.
Along the way, families became too easily entwined with their own individual lives – jobs, school, homework (plus other after-school activities), friends, weekend sports, and so on. They got too busy to sit down together for even one meal a day, let alone once a week.
A few years ago, I discovered, through NationalDayCalendar.com, that Isabel Laessig forged the “Sunday Supper Movement” and has a website, by the same name, at SundaySupperMovement.com. I highly recommend you check it out for yourself.
Likewise, Danielle and Misty (a mom and daughter duo), at BorrowedBites.com, also have a great article about the Sunday dinner ritual, which I highly recommend reading, as well! It’s called Why Sunday Dinner Tradition is so Powerful. I especially love their following passage (it reminds me of Mom):
“Who doesn’t love the idealistic picture of everyone gathered around a table, plates piled with good food, and laughter interrupting bites? …Recipes can be seen as just food, or they can be seen as the bait to get people to sit and linger. To tell stories of their week, share what’s on their heart, and utter the latest joke. That’s why we are passionate about sharing recipes that bring family to the table.”
No matter the occasion, even for something as simple as a Sunday supper, nothing brings people together more than food. All-in-all, we love food almost as much as we love each other. As I’ve said before, “Any reason to celebrate, is a reason to celebrate with food…” (Feb. 24, 2020) would make a great ad slogan – but remember, I coined it first!
I also like what Lindsey Veeh proposed in her timeless article, 6 Ways To Bring Your Family Closer Together (June 3, 2013). She suggested, “Make Sunday night family night. Invite extended family over to promote bonding with grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and other relatives.”
Any time spent together, bonding and enjoying each other’s company, is priceless. Cooking and eating together is a great start. You could also follow Sunday supper with a family game night or movie night, or just going for a walk together.
Another wonderful idea is to write/record your family’s stories – while everyone’s together, sharing their favorite memories. I wish I could go back in time and do just that!
Gloria Pitzer’s Reliable Recipes For Reluctant Cooks (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1983, p.6)
COOKING IS MORE THAN TURNING ON THE STOVE – IT’S PLEASING PEOPLE!
AS OFTEN AS WE put things off, in life, it’s a shame that we don’t care more about the ‘now’, the ‘todays’, the here-I-am and here-you-are, and what can we do for each other to make things as good as possible for [both of] us! I know!
There are people who can’t be bothered with such nonsense. They have jobs to work and bills to pay, things to worry about and goals to achieve. ‘If you’re going to talk about cooking and foods… what are you going off on tangents for, talking about people and their feelings?’
This is a question I’ve been asked over and over by inquiring reporters, wanting to know why we’re successful at what we do, why people go to such trouble to locate us and order our books! I think they answer their own question. Don’t you?
After all, cooking is not for robots! The way we present our food to those who share our table with us takes into account more than plopping the pot roast onto a platter and announcing, ‘Supper’s ready!’ Is that where it ends? When a meal is presented, there are many considerations for the cook.
Besides the balance, nutritionally, there’s the effort to please those who will hopefully enjoy the food. And trying to please those you’re feeding is a direct appeal, a definite effort, to consider someone’s feelings, the feelings of enjoyment and consequently of approval – approval of the food and… the one who prepared it.
Every day, the homemaker, with a family to feed, meets the challenge of proving they can be proficient, both, in the selections of foods, [as well as] the preparation and presentation of it and the management and the management of the cost.
Cooking is more than turning on the stove and opening the refrigerator. It’s pleasing people! It’s caring about what they might like to eat. It’s doing your best to prepare and present the dishes so that mealtime is not just a daily routine – but an occasion.
The cookbook industry has offended us… as if the recipes were designed for mindless bodies – not for folks with feelings! Food fanatics continue to advise us on how to feed the body while we let the famished affections go hungry.
The critics’ smoking guns right now are aimed at curing physical maladies with food administered medicinally. Food, as medication, is used as both a preservative and a cure. But what heals the broken spirit – the sensitive, the distressed, the lonely, the shy and withdrawn?
It takes more than adequate fiber intake; minimum daily nutritional needs being filled to cure the body of ills created by stress and anguish. It takes loving, caring and being loved and cared about in return!
Thursday is the start of February, which observes, among other things… National Fasting February, An Affair to Remember Month, National Black History Month, National Canned Food Month, National Creative Romance Month, National Great American Pies Month, National Bake for Family Fun Month, National Bird Feeding Month, National Cherry Month, National Grapefruit Month, National Hot Breakfast Month, National Library Lover’s Month, National Snack Food Month, and National Weddings Month.
February is also the anniversary of Mom’s first appearance on ABC’s “Home” show (1988), when she was first introduced to the famous cookie maker, Wally Amos, himself. More on that next week. In the meantime, family is the most important gift you’ll ever have, in life. Cherish those moments spent together.
In honor of this still being January and National Soup Month, here’s Mom’s copycat recipe for “Quick Beer Cheese Soup”; as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 117). [A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition)].
P.S. Food-for-thought until we meet again, next Monday…
February 2nd is… National Heavenly Hash Day, National Tater Tot Day, and National Groundhog Day. Plus, as the first Friday in February (2024), it’s also… National Bubble Gum Day and National Wear Red Day.
February 3rd is… National Carrot Cake Day and National Day the Music Died Day. Plus, as the first Saturday of the month (for 2024), it’s also… National Ice Cream for Breakfast Day and National Play Outside Day (which is the first Saturday of EVERY month).
…5 down, 47 more to go!