In a house filled with teens and tweens and crazy-ass pets, it is easy for the sheer volume of life to become a little over-whelming. Half the time I don’t know who has the car, or whose laundry is in the dryer, or why “meeting at 7:30” is written in the Tuesday spot on the calendar.
Assembling my entire herd of turtles at the table every night would be a feat akin to parting the Red Sea, so I surrender to the madness and serve dinner like a summer camp line cook, ladling chili into bowls as people fly past me, or sticking something in casserole form on the counter with instructions to serve themselves. EXCEPT ON SUNDAY.
On Sunday at 5:00pm I expect to see every member of my family in the kitchen, including those who do not live at home. The only excuse is vomiting. If you are not vomiting, you are attending. From 5:00pm to at least 9:00pm, we make “real” food, have “real” conversation, and eat a “real” dinner around a very crowded table.
Sunday dinner is mandatory because family is mandatory. Because there should not be a life so busy that you cannot carve out a few hours a week to argue with your loved ones about political issues and global warming and Miley Cyrus… Love her? Hate her? Don’t give a flying figs ass? (Yes, that is an expression where I grew up. Don’t judge me!)
Like everything else related to my brood, Sunday dinner is a loud, raucous affair. We talk over each other, pick up foods with our fingers, and laugh with our mouths open. The adults drink a little too much wine. My youngest picks at the main course and doubles up on dessert. It’s an etiquette disaster.
Sunday dinner is not for the faint of heart. There will be at least one major argument about something. White clothing will meet up with red wine or red pasta sauce. There will be carbs and meat and something made with refined sugar (and probably topped with whipped cream), and these things will be pushed onto every plate.
But strangely, somewhere in the middle of it all, everyone will RELAX. Really relax. And the arguments will give way to laughter. And we will end up flopped all over the living room furniture with our pants undone, loose-limbed and sleepy. Teens and tweens will play piano or guitar or ukelele and everyone will sing along. The dog will join in with some howling or just lay in the midst and fart (depending largely on how many people secretly fed him from the table).
On Monday morning, the kitchen counters are covered in upside down pots and wine glasses washed and set to dry on tea towels but not put away. At least one kid remembers some piece of homework that was supposed to be completed Sunday night. I have a slight red wine headache. Every iphone in the house is dead from Sunday’s hours and hours of listening to playlists, and no one can find a charger (because our house eats iphone cords and chargers… it’s a fact… we are trying to book an exorcism but there is never anyone home to let the priest in).
The busy madness of another week begins and I accept that most of my conversations with loved ones will likely be held in station wagons, while waiting at lights, en route to lessons of some sort or another. I accept that we might have to order pizza at least one night because there won’t be time to cook. And I accept that I may never know what half the scrawled notes on the family calendar mean.
I accept these things with a light heart and a sense of humour because I know that it is only six sleeps until the next Sunday dinner. And Sunday dinner is mandatory.