Toward the end of the movie "Diary of a Mad Black Woman", there's a 10 second shot (more or less) of a table loaded with Sunday dinner. It's apparent that it's Sunday dinner only because the shots before it were in a church. There's fried chicken, greens, corn bread....all kinds of good food. And it made me think of Sundays, well weekends in general, at my house when I was younger.
My grandmother was very much alive and well then, and she lived with my parents and I. My mother had gone back to work when I was nine and we were in Iowa, and from that time until we moved to Michigan when I was fourteen, she lived with us. She cooked breakfast in the morning- eggs, sausage, bacon, biscuits from scratch, and gravy also from scratch. If we had left over mashed potatoes from the night before, she would make potato pancakes, and I swear that I could eat a baker's dozen of those even when I was nine. They were heavenly! For dinner, we'd have absolutely scrumptous soul food- fried chicken, black eyed peas, green beans, okra, squash, things of those nature, and always a pone of cornbread, and at least once a week a from-scratch peach cobbler.
When I was 11, we moved to north Alabama, the Motherland. My mother's entire family has lived there for generations untold, and my brothers and their families had chosen to live there as well (of all the places they had traveled, mind you). My house became a constant hustle and bustle of people- young nephews, sister-in-laws, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, my friends, long-time family friends, my paternal grandmother visited often...everyone. And the kitchen became even more important, and there was always something being cooked. As time went on, a number of these people actually came to live with us- my nephews became permanent fixtures. The oldest two and I shared a bed, the baby slept in a crib at the foot of that bed, and he was my responsibility mostly.
Saturday morning breakfast was my responsibility as well. As I had made sure my nephews were well-read at their young ages, they had a love of Dr. Seuss. So, green eggs and ham- which was usually bacon- was the menu for the kids (colored with food coloring of course), and then the adults got their requisite coffee, biscuits, gravy, and bacon. But Sundays...
That was always my mother and grandmother's doing. And it was a spread the likes of which I'm sure few families know. There was so much food that we'd still be eating it on Monday. There were so many people to feed, usually somewhere around 20 or 30! So, Mama and Granny made heaps of fried chicken, potatoes, okra, green beans, greens, and the corn bread was made in the biggest cast iron skillet we owned- coincidentally, it is also the biggest one made. Sometimes, there was fried fish, steaks, meatloafs...sometimes it was Cajun fair, the likes of which no one can explain because it's the best stuff you could ever put in your mouth.
I remember being so whole and complete then, and especially on Sunday nights. The weekends always brought so much work- this is when heavy duty cleaning was done, any repairs that weren't of an emergency nature, all the laundry and ironing was done, and there was entirely too many children to keep up with and to keep away from the stove. There was football in the backyard, or baseball, skateboards in the front, music blasting, so much laughter. Weekends were special- the time of total togetherness. But Sundays...they were special, sanctified.
I can't remember the last time I sat down to Sunday dinner....it's been years. And it's been well over a decade since we had togetherness like that. Madea reminded me of them. And I've decided that, upon starting my new job this coming November, that I will jump start the tradition. I'll have everyone I can over for Sunday dinner, ever single Sunday. I miss it. It was well worth all the effort, and it'll be worth the effort to have it again. I will re-sanctify an almost archaic tradition, especially in American society. We live in a country where time equals money, and time spent not working is money lost instead of enjoyment gained. It's time I gain something that can't be spent, but is invaluable. I'm taking back Sundays.