Thursday, September 23, 2010

Simply Dining

If you’re looking for a Tablescape adventure, you’ll have to scroll down to yesterday's post. This one takes place at a table of a different sort.

The family table

I love the family table, and gathering with the extended family around one on Sundays is a simple pleasure.

Ok... simple for me. The Duchess does all of the work.  To be fair, we’ve offered to alternate hosting or switch to pot luck, but both offers were refused. Sunday dinner at Grandma’s house, prepared by Grandma, is family tradition.

You won’t find a fancy centerpiece or candles in the middle of our Sunday table. There simply isn’t room with all of the food. It’s just not Sunday dinner unless you can fill every square inch of your plate if you have a mind to.

I usually have a mind to.

It isn’t fancy, either. We use tumblers instead of goblets and stoneware instead of china. We don't need place cards because we sit in basically the same seat every week anyway. The only exception through the years would be  alternate Duchess flanking by grandchildren.

Here's how we roll...
Immediately following the Amen, the Duchess begins to narrate the table, pointing to each food item as if it were not abundantly obvious in the first place. She generally throws in a disclaimer or two, too. She’s sorry to say that those scalloped potatoes could have cooked a little longer. The ham, on the other hand, looks just a tad overdone.

Overdone meat is generally blamed on some poor, unsuspecting pastor and a long winded sermon.

After the tabletop tour, we pass the food. We always pass in the same direction, but since I still don’t know my left from my right, I’m unsure which direction that is. I just wait for something to be passed to me and jump on the bandwagon.

And we talk while we’re doing it.
Just imagine My Big Fat Greek Wedding
The Beverly Hillbillies.

If a sauce or gravy is in front of you, you must remember to wait until its corresponding meat marches by before inserting it into the food parade. If you’re talking and miss the gravy interjection opportunity, you get the two syllable scolding.

When all food returns to its assigned post, we eat. The noise level goes down about a half a decibel for about a half a minute before it amps up again. We talk about church or school or the latest town tidbit. We recap the news. We discuss politics, and it can even get a little heated. Generally speaking, we can solve any major world crisis by dessert and coffee.

Because every Sunday dinner is followed by
dessert and coffee.

Dessert time is a major production for the Duchess. She stands at the counter, coffee pot in hand, and heralds about every conceivable option.

Who wants pie?
Pumpkin or chocolate?
With whipped cream or without?
How about ice cream?

This last question prompts the ice cream flavor proclamation. The Duchess can make a simple pleasure very complicated.

All told, the dinner hour lasts two on Sundays. By this time, most testosterone has skedaddled to another room where remote controls have mute buttons. Those who remain clear away the dinner mess and plop back down at the table for a little more conversation.

I have been known to have a little more dessert too... once I get my second wind.

Without a doubt, Sunday dinner is my favorite time of the week, and though the food is delicious, it's really just secondary.  Simply put, I love Sunday dinner because the centerpiece is family and the main course is love.

I don't know what Sunday dinner will look like in years to come. The truth is that my girls will probably live too far away to share a weekly meal with me. And I'm not foolish enough to think that we will  have the Duchess forever either. So I cherish this simple pleasure, and I try never to take it for granted.

If there is one question that I get asked more than any other, it is the secret to the closeness of our  family. How is it, folks want to know, that you are closer to cousins and uncles than some people are to their own brothers and sisters?

It’s just this:
My parents knew a simple truth
as did my grandparents before them.
Strong families are built
around the family table.

This week’s simple pleasure was inviting you to ours.

Sharing this with Dayle at A Collection of This and That
Please join us for more Simple Pleasures


CAL said...

Wow - and you don't even have to wait for a holiday to gather!!! I took these for granted, thinking it would always be this way.

Our days of Sunday dinner gatherings are so different now with my Mom in a retirement home. I hope you enjoy for many more years to come.

Anonymous said...

The food looks so good!....I miss those times!
But,we do go over the MIL's once in awhile and I can relate,because she does the same thing,discussing this or that,but the food is always good.
Thanks for sharing,I enjoyed reading!
And thanks for comment on LazyonLoblolly.

Karen said...

Center piece is family and the main course is love! That is wonderful! Joining you at Simple Pleasures.

Denise said...

So I LAUGHED all of the way through your explanation of Sunday dinner. You described it perfectly. Then, I cried, well teared up and did an awe, at the end. You are an amazing and gifted writer. Love you bunches.

Debbie said...

I wanted to linger a while after reading your post. This soooo reminds me of my Gran and her huge family dinners! Days gone, but not forgotten. Thank you for such an inspiring post.
Bless you.

Anita said...

You just described Sunday dinner at my mom's house! I'm glad to know the tradition is alive and well. Yours sounds so perfect and welcoming. You have such a wonderful writing style. I just love reading about everything:-)

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful testament to family traditions.

Ann said...

I've never lived close enough to my grandparents and my kids haven't lived in the same state as theirs either. The closest we come to the family dinner is our annual family picnic where several generations ... actually I think we have four generations (having just lost the last of the 5th last summer) meeting up for an all day affair.
This year, we are bringing "the fiance." Poor guy. : )

Love your simple pleasure of the week. Perhaps with our kids and their family, we can begin "the Sunday dinner."

Sue said...

That sounds lovely; where does your husband's family fit into all this though? Are you children close with them as well?


Cindy said...

Debbie, LOVE, LOVE this simple pleasure.

Your table photo is great. Makes me want to just jump right in and join ya. I had to smile when you spoke about the duchess (after grace) giving the disclaimer. I do that too. :)

Thanks for sharing such a wonderful simple pleasure.

Marlis said...

Love the table.. it's what life is all about. I loved how you shared the entire meal with us.. the remarks are priceless.. You are so very blessed. thanks for dropping in and visiting with your sweet words.


Wow! That really looks good! For some reason I'm feeling a little hungry. :-)

Angel said...

Debbie, Thank you for this heartwarming post. You are such a gifted writer! Not many people can make me laugh hard and cry hard at the same time. Blessings!

Dayle said...

This post was a blessing. I love the Sunday tradition, and wish I lived close enough to my "duchess" to have such a gathering. Indeed, you are all blessed to enjoy this simple pleasure every week. And I couldn't agree more. That is how strong families are built.

Always a joy to see you at the Simple Pleasures party.

Jennie said...

I love this! I have never experienced a tradition like this until I was inaugurated into the Sheppard family. ;) Sunday dinner has a whole new meaning now. And it's almost identical to yours! Though, I imagine there's slightly less yakking and laughter at Net Net's house, if you know what I mean...and I will deny every word if you tell anyone I said that! ;)

I remember how terrified I was those first few Sundays. Now, when we get the chance to go, I relish every moment. There is something to be said about a family who stays close together all through the years.

We might be far away in miles from our extended family, but we place equal importance on our dinner table. I love this post!

Keep on writing, lady. You know we all love it! (And thanks for backing me on the animal thing. I was afraid I ostracized my three readers by confessing that out loud!)

elizabeth said...

You said my Simple Pleasure was the best...but you girlfriend...YOU have a gift to story tell that is simple and sweet and beautiful. I LOVE it!

A Hopeful Heart said...

Totally wonderful post!!!! I am passionate about the family table. My husband and kids and I have had dinner together EVERY night for close to fifteen years. It is simply not an option to be running here and there and missing family dinner time. As you said, a family is built around the family table...and I know that we have an incredibly strong family unit.

Sadly, we don't live near extended family at the present time, but we are hoping to live close again real soon, and one of the things that means alot to me is having Sunday dinner with the grandparents...just as I did when I was growing up.

Thank you for sharing this beautiful simple pleasure.


Anonymous said...

I love the comforting bustle and chaos of family dinners -- of gathering around a table laden with an abundance of simple comfort food and surrounded by the laughter and loud voices of my loved ones. This was such a lovely post, and has me eagerly awaiting our next family gathering! Thank you for sharing your simple pleasure!

Vanessa said...

Every time I read something you have written I feel like I am enveloped right into your life and your family. Could you use another slightly irreverant member? It is so funny because my hubby and I were just talking about this tradition the other night and it is not something that occurs for us even though we have family nearby (too complicated to explain). We fiercely protect our family dinners every night and love this precious time together! I have to admit a jealousy for what you have! But I can be jealous of you and still really like you and be happy that you have this wonderful tradition!:-)

Kathleen said...

When I lived at home we always had a Sunday roast. My mother was a really good cook. Sadly I'm not so I never continued the ritual of Sunday dinners when I married. The Duchess sounds like a real treasure, that food looks fantastic!

gnee @ Singing With Birds said...

Enjoy these wonderful times! We are all too scattered to make the most of this significant tradition your parents have instilled in your sweet family. We try to invite dear friends, different ones, at least twice a month, but it's not the same.

Hopefully in the near future we will sell our home and move closer to our kids and I can step into the Duchess's shoes, although they are pretty BIG!!!!

My husband looked at your beautiful table and surprised me with 8 ruffled dishes last night! I'd love to find a pretty cloth too. Thanks for playing your make-believe game so well!

Entertaining Women said...

It’s just this:
My parents knew a simple truth
as did my grandparents before them.
Strong families are built
around the family table. .......................Enough over....Duchess 54 Rest of the world in too big a hurry 0. This is the name of the game....the thing that too many have lost. Thank you for verbalizing this important truth. Cherry Kay

Ms.Daisy said...

You had to do it! You had to go and get me all teary eyed! This wonderful Simple Pleasure "The Family Table" brought me right back to my grandmother's Sunday and Holidat dinners with all of her 5 children and their children seated around her huge (at least to me at the time!)table. We had tremendous amounts of food to consume as the adults talked about all manner of subjects the main one being politics and oh boy, did it get loud! You are so right when you say that strong families are made around the dinner table. Thank you so much for reminding us of this very important truth.


Happier Than a Pig in Mud said...

Love it! I'm so happy for you and wish it for everyone:@)

Carol said...

Debbie, this is one of most beautiful descriptions of a simple pleasure I have ever read. What a wonderful weekly tradition. What an amazing blessing.

Joan said...

This is beautiful Debbie. Far too often these days, families don't gather together around the table. You are blessed to have a family that does.

Sue (Someone's Mom) said...

I remember doing this when I was a child. We lived in the same town with both sets of my grandparents. But, when I got married we moved and I never lived where my parents lived, and other than a brief 3 years in the same town with my family in the same town in my 35 years of marriage. Now, my daughter lives 1000 miles away, my grandparents are long gone and my mom died in May. We can't even all be in the same state for holidays anymore...this was a beautiful post and it also makes me very sad for how I wish things could be and yet they can't.

bj said...

We have a family dinner such as this but not EVERY Sunday..about twice a month. We are 18 strong so it takes a LOT of food for our bunch...most of the time, the teens have a date along with them...
Can I tell you how blessed I am to have two children, 10 grandchildren and one great-grand, and a grandson-by marriage...
I would stand and cook for days on end just to please all my sweeties. It is MY Pleasure!!

You are so cute and I love your sense of humor.:))

FrouFrouBritches said...

This sounds like dinner at my mom's house. The men go watch football and we all clean the kitchen, except we do potluck and I'm kind of lazy so I sometimes insist on paper. We don't live close enough to do it every week though. Sure wish we did.

I had to go back and read about the two syllable scolding. Gracious, you crack me up! My kids caught me laughing out loud with the computer in my lap again. Sooo funny! My grandmother had a collection of "butter dishes" (also known as Parkay tubs) she sent our leftover home in. We always had to wash them too. So funny!

Jane said...

I remember Sunday dinners like this, and I certainly do miss them. Family has decreased in size and the rest have scattered across the world. Glad that you are able to enjoy this!


Debbie said...

Sue, I answered you here, but I don't see it. Good grief, I can't even manage to comment on my own blog correctly.

In short, the husband's family is scattered all over the country, and it's rare for them to be all together, even at holidays.

When they do get together, it's generally around the table too. I think that's why he is so comfortable with ours. His is just a lot quieter and more formal (in food and setting) than mine is.

Our girls don't get to see the cousins on his side of the family often, but when they do, they always hit it right off. It's nice, because they are exactly the same age as my two.

southerninspiration said...

Can you adopt me, since we're practically sisters anyway??? :D sounds like SUCh fun!


Sharon Kirby said...

What a wonderful post - Here's the recipe for the perfect Debbie "family table story":

A healthy cup of wit and cleverness
Blend in some nifty pictures
Sprinkle in a good message
Spice up with a few "ahhh...that's so sweet" moments

Stir it all together...

And then just scoop it all up and enjoy!!

Thanks, friend. Really enjoyed this - felt like I was there. I want to be an honorary "yakker" at the family table. (Could I have my own nickname, too?!?!)


Amy Kinser said...

Isn't it sad that the family table is a rarity now. I love that your family is so important to you, mine is as well except that most of us are all spread apart. Our parents all live out of town as well as our siblings. It's just the five of us here but we make sure that we keep our family as the focus...of course, after God.

Lynn Richards said...

I just keep thinking of the Duchess..and it makes me laugh!!! I am looking forward to having dinners like this. Would you mind telling my eldest that this is our plan? I think it would be better coming from someone else that she cannot move far away. ever.

Francie of The Scented Cottage said...

thanks for the memories...most of my family is gone but oh we had good times !


sarah said...

"....imagine My Big Fat Greek Wedding
meets The Beverly Hillbillie" Got to the image and loving it. Great post.

Kathleen said...

Looks fabulous and sounds wonderful! What a treat!

Sharlotte said...

Hi Debbie,
What a great post! I love traditions too, especially Sunday dinners. You are so very lucky to be close to family!! I LOVED your table - a true table and I think you do have a centerpiece, it's love. Thanks so much for sharing and dropping by to visit!

Tess said...

Sounds like a great time!! Your tablecloth is so cute and the food looks wonderful. Hope you continue to enjoy your family time for years to come!

laurie @ bargain hunting said...

When did this when my mother was alive, and it was such a gathering. Since we lost my mother, I have Sunday evening meals for my family. (I don't know how she went to church AND got a big noon meal on the table). I'm always amazed at how well you describe scenes that I have experienced, and you do it with such wit. I love coming to visit your blog. laurie


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