Tonight I did something I've waited all my life to do. I hosted Sunday Dinner.
Sunday Dinners began in my family by accident. My mother cooked Sauce every Sunday because my dad loves it, and then Mondays were leftover days. Over time, it kind of became famous. Everybody who has tried my mother's Sauce loves it, and since it was regularly cooked on Sunday, scoring the big invite (or, these days, inviting oneself) became a Thing.
As a kid I never really understood the appeal. I hated that my family was "weird" and had Sunday Sauce, and I boycotted and protested like crazy. Each week my mother stood at her pot like Strega Nona, and she would ask people, "How hungry are you?" I don't know why she asks, because she gives everyone the same amount: A LOT. But when she got to me, I'd say, "Only a little, and NO SAUCE." My mom never said anything. She always gave me the plain noodles and let it go.
As I got older, it changed from "no sauce" to a "raindrop of sauce." And then when I eventually moved out and realized, Oh, hey, cooking isn't quite as easy as Mom makes it look, well, I really began to look forward to Sundays. And Sauce. Now that we're all grown up, Sunday Dinner is the meeting place for the Original 5. My parents and my brother and sister, and all of our children. And usually, my grandparents come, and then...well, whoever else. My mother will never turn anyone away (not even if she's remodeling and it's the construction workers), and she always has enough. Always.
There are about four Sundays a year when my mother doesn't do Sunday Dinner. They usually involve events taking place elsewhere, and it should be said that my dad gets pretty grumpy about it. Usually, on the D-L, my mom cooks a pot of Sauce anyway and serves my dad his spaghetti BEFORE they go out.
On those Sundays when my mom isn't cooking, my sister usually picks up the slack. Jane's been a grownup pretty much as long as I can remember, so I can't recall the first time she ever made her own Sauce. All I know is, Jane, like my mom, has the whole process down and makes it look, really, really easy. Her meatballs are delicious, her salad dressing is tangy and fabulous, and she thoughtfully remembers everybody's personal preferences for breads, drinks, and desserts. And she uses a tablecloth, a nice touch my mom never bothers with.
I realized yesterday that this would be one of those Sundays my mom wasn't cooking. Before my sister could even think, I blurted, "CAN I MAKE THE SAUCE??" with a level of enthusiasm that I'm pretty sure left her feeling totally obligated. I envisioned lit candles, and a whole lot of oohing and aahing. Basically, since my mom and sister could do it, I figured it was a blood thing. Of course I could do it, too--and it would be worthy of Better Homes and Gardens. HGTV would be knocking at my door wondering what smelled so amazing. Martha Stewart would call for tips. Or, at the very least, my mom and sister would be really proud of me.
Let me put this simply, to save time and embarrassment. Blackened garlic bread. Sour salad. Horrible, horrible meatballs.
I'd like to say that my mom and sister are just plain amazing. And I'm not, apparently.
Not yet. ;)