More Than Just a Meal

According to a lot of people, breakfast, lunch, and dinner is just that: food. To me however, my mom’s home cooking is more than that. It means togetherness, good values, memories that will stick with me forever. I grow and foster my intellectuality and humor. At the table, we share and think, eat and satisfy both our minds and stomachs. Sunday was so important because it sort of started the rest of our weeks. Everything important happens on Sunday: trash goes out for the next day, laundry and homework gets done, and finally, mom spends most of the day cooking dinner. We would always eat home-cooked meals, but on Sunday, there was something special about dinner. It had an extra kick. All of these chores that would be completed still stick with me today, even as I am in college. In essence, part of who I am is because of my mom, who she taught me to be, and her famous dinners on Sunday.

Home is everything to me. Over the years of my life, I have grown up in two homes. It’s funny, because one I spent my younger years in, and the other we moved into just as I was blossoming into a young adult. It’s almost as if the homes symbolize my age in a way. The home I spent my younger years in basically had most of my immediate family in it as well. That means a lot of people, hence a lot of personality. There was my funny uncle, my grand-pop who was usually full of war stories, my nana, which is probably part of where I get my sass, and the family cat, Smokey. Finally, there was me and my mom. My Mom gave birth to me when she was still in high school, so naturally, we stayed in my grandparent’s home when I was youngest. This is all important, because my mother became the great influence she is to me today because of her memories and experiences made with the rest of the family.

During our weekly Sunday dinners, we would give highlights of our weeks, what has made us happy lately and what has made us absolutely infuriated. Really, Sunday dinner was not much about food at all, it was more of the glue that held us together. We gathered over food, and bonded over words. I would often be consulting my mom on advice for some problem I was having in school. Something specific I can remember is when the elections for Student Council were coming up, and I really wanted to win representative for my class. I was a freshman in high school at this time, and was nervous being that I was new in high school. My Mom explained to me at the table during dinnertime, as her weekly spread illuminated my nostrils and she put my one of my favorite dishes of hers, which was baked ziti, onto my plate, how much she believed in me, and the best way to win over my peers was to be myself. I will never forget that conversation. Even though I didn’t win the election that year, it was because even though my Mom truly believed in me, I didn’t win because I didn’t believe in myself. Over the course of the year, I got a better sense of who I, usually through trial and error over dinner and the next year, I won in a landslide. This is an example of the type of bonding that happened over dinner, especially on Sunday. I can remember a bunch of things I learned from my mom at dinner. She always gives me her philosophies and opinion on values, in which I have taken with me through life.

Sunday dinners in the second home I grew up in as I was getting older was a tad different, but in no way any less important to me and my family. By this time, Mom owned a new home not far from where we lived before that included myself, my new baby sister, and our new cat Mittenz. Now, Sunday dinners at home usually included my Mom, sister, and I; although sometimes the rest of the family would join us. I still really loved Sunday, it was all the same, just less people.

Another example of receiving great advice and learning tools from my mom during dinner was around the time when I was getting ready to leave for college. I was really excited, as any soon-to-be freshman would be, but also really nervous. I was worrying about everything, from if I was going to make friends to succeeding in class. Freaking out and having mini panic attacks had become too often for my mom’s comfort. I started to become less excited, and more unenthused to say the least. On a comfortable Sunday, less busy because it was the summer, and everybody’s schedules were less cluttered, my mom started her usual Sunday routine. She woke up a bit early, went to the grocery store, and began making diner after she returned. Later in the evening, sitting down to spaghetti and garlic bread, which was one of my favorite meals made by my mom, she began to ask, “So, you’re going to Kutztown in a couple of weeks. Are you excited?” I immediately knew where this conversation was headed, and I didn’t really want to talk about it. Twisting and untwisting the spaghetti on my fork I replied, “Yeah……it should be fun.” My mom knows her children well, and she knew I was lying. She asked, “Tell me what worries you about going away.” I decided to let it all out. Almost in tears, I say, “I love that I picked Kutztown, but going away is my problem. I am scared that I won’t make it, I will do horribly in school, not make any friends, and miss home way too much to do anything productive.” She proceeds to tell me that if I couldn’t make it at Kutztown, then I wouldn’t have made it this far in the first place. She reminded me that going away to college shouldn’t be a burden, but a blessing. “Hey,” she says, “and if it turns out you don’t like it and want to come home, that doesn’t mean you didn’t make it. It means you just have to make it somewhere else. But, the point is, you will make it.” That was all I needed to hear. My mom has this way of making any problem disappear, and usually it’s over a good meal. She made my favorite dish on purpose. Twisting my spaghetti on my fork with no untwisting this time, I wipe my eyes, nod in understanding, and take a bite.

Dinner on Sunday was, and is, a learning lesson as well as good food. When I was young, it was when I learned what is good for my mind. As I grew older, and my surroundings changed, I learned how to grow into my own person. It may not make sense to others, but I can’t stress enough that Sunday dinner was how we all got together always. It was a time when schedules were cleared, phones rung without answer, and everyone always had time to listen to one another. Even as I am in college, I look forward to going home especially for Sunday dinner. These days, I am usually updating my mom on everything that goes on while I am at Kutztown, and she updates me on the new gossip of the neighborhood. This is what proves how important Sunday dinner is. We, as a family, have all changed and grown up in our own way, but the tradition has stayed the same. It has not broken, and it is an equivalence for how we cannot be broken if we have each other.

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1 Response to More Than Just a Meal

  1. Janice Chernekoff says:

    Looks like you Mom’s advice was really good.

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