Each Sunday when I was growing up, my mother would make what she referred to as, Sunday Supper. It was always served promptly at 1 p.m. providing ample time to still attend church in the morning and included her parents as the sole guests—Grandpa and Grandma. Prior to their arrival, my responsibility was to properly set the table while my mom would hurry to create a full-course dinner—perhaps corned beef and cabbage, or an eye of the round roast, maybe a pork loin, or ham—each entrée complete with all of the appropriate potatoes and vegetables. Then, finally, we could get to the best part (in my humble opinion)—some sort of homemade dessert. We would sit around the dining room/kitchen table and talk about relatives, catch up on the past week’s activities, discuss the weather, lament the latest news – it really didn’t matter—it was a family obligation. Clean up seemed to take forever, and then my grandparents would stay and continue to chat, watch a game on TV, or simply relax. Later, as a teenager, I resented this mandated schedule—it felt like an “intrusion”—into time I would rather be spending with friends doing something more “fun and interesting”. My mom would remind me that someday, I would remember and appreciate these gatherings. I certainly didn’t fully understand or agree with her opinion until we lost my Grandpa and the Sunday Suppers seemed smaller and less appealing.
Life Lesson 1
Learning to properly set a table and utilize the correct utensils at the appropriate time – helped with business meeting etiquette later in life.
Life Lesson 2
Recognizing that every individual has value as well as something meaningful to add to the conversation; despite their age and background.
Imagine my surprise and excitement, years later, when my then fiancé suggested I join him to attend Sunday Suppers at his mom and dad’s house. Remembering my manners, I asked if we should arrive early (around 12:30) so I could assist his mom by setting the table. Totally not necessary—we could simply arrive around 6 p.m. (6 p.m. supper?) when everyone else would arrive. (Everyone else?) Unlike my small family unit of five, his family’s attendees numbered 14; however, the dining room was similar in size to our dining room/kitchen table. The first evening was like nothing I could have ever imagined. Everyone talked at once, making it nearly impossible to follow any singular conversation, the food (pasta, sauce, salad, meatballs/sausage, bread) arrived in stages and everyone picked up the nearest item and simply began to pass it around. Dessert (previously always worth saving room for) was a choice of nondescript Jell-O or pudding or both each complete with Reddi-wip followed by a dish of candy (candy?). I felt lost—all those years of training and practice had been totally wasted. I went home disheartened with a massive migraine and horrible heartburn.
Life Lesson 3
Research, research, research prior to attending any function.
Life Lesson 4
Be flexible; learn to adapt to change.
Fast-forward many years and many Sunday Suppers. Once we married, my husband decided we should institute our own non-conforming version of the Sunday Supper tradition. He actually traded in his Corvette for a more spacious sedan so his parents or my dad and his girlfriend, Irene, would be more comfortable (now that’s true love and sacrifice!) We immediately began going out for dinner each Sunday with my dad and Irene—and, they loved it! After losing them both, we began taking his parents out every Sunday evening. This eventually became just his dad, and now, sadly, it is just us.
Life Lesson 5
Nothing lasts forever, so cherish the time you have.
Life Lesson 6
A sacrifice is worth making if it reflects the right intentions.
Michael and I have decided to continue the Sunday Supper tradition and invite other friends (who truly have become our extended family) to join us each Sunday evening. We actually started tonight by going with a good friend to Chapel Grille—next week, who knows where we will go for dinner or who will join us. All we recognize is traditions are worth the investment and pay many dividends on both a personal and professional level in terms of success. Join us some Sunday night?
Karen Silva, Ed.D., teaches in JWU’s online graduate degree programs. If you’re interested in pursuing your master’s degree, consider exploring your options from JWU. Learn from experts with real-world experience. For more information, complete the Request Info form, call 855-JWU-1881, or email [email protected].