As far back as I can remember Sunday dinner was a really special meal. It might be hash during the week, but on Sunday it was a big beef roast, with potatoes, and gravy and all the other food groups. Or it could be a roast chicken, with mashed potatoes and gravy and all the other food groups. And dessert. Always dessert. My mother made the best pie.
And before dinner was church. Sometimes my mother stayed home from church to finish up a really special meal. Whether or not, the dinner the rest of the family came home to was always wonderful.
As a kid I liked the whole experience implied by the name. Sunday dinner. A weekly meal when we all sat down together and talked together, sharing our weekly activities, our experiences, our laughs, our unhappy moments and even a hint about our regrets. As a teen I grumped about sharing except when the focus was on me. Typical reaction. As a college student I had plenty of attention when I came home, so it didn’t matter as much that the rest of the family was getting some too. As an adult, I appreciated that the other, now scattered family members were sharing a glimpse into their lives. Then, as a wife and mother I was pleased that my immediate family all received “airtime” at the table when we visited. All so typical, I suppose, but we were a typical American family. No major issues among us.
This is a tradition that, as a wife and mother, I carried on in my immediate family. We always met for Sunday dinner, no matter how involved the children were in something else – sports, music, movies, friends and more. Fortunately, they grew up before the advent of ipads and iphones. My reaction would have been to put these devices down or they would be taken away. I was tough.
I’m pleased that my oldest child (also female) is continuing the tradition. My other two children are not on a regular basis. As it is convenient, I suppose, or the urge to make the effort is greater than not.
During my childhood Sunday dinner was one of those traditions that was a mainstay. There were a great many traditions as I was growing up. Among them were courtesy to others, caring about the underdog, polite behavior when in public. Oh, pockets of these traits may remain, but it would seem the “general public” has set these aside to embrace controversy and even hatred instead. Maybe it’s that the media is focusing on the hateful actions of others more than ever – and maybe not. Maybe it’s that more media exists today and 24-hour coverage must include something controversial – maybe not.
Still, what is happening today in our public life is not traditional. How far have we (the universal we) come in moving away from our traditions? Yes, even to whom we elect as our president. We are looking at choices now that are so non-traditional it is staggering. Surely that crazy man named Trump is putting us on! Surely no one can be that obnoxious in real life. Now, electing a woman is fine with me. It’s about time. But why such a controversial woman? Then there’s the Socialist who’s running as a Democrat. Wow. What a field of candidates to choose from.
Our president has said, “That’s now who we are,” but I’m thinking, “Maybe it didn’t used to be, but it seems like it is now.”
Just now everything is politics. But like Sunday dinner, “politics” is no longer traditional.