Ditching Sunday Dinner
Even after I lost my religion*, Sunday dinner remained sacred for the next 50 years. The idea of preparing a family meal on Sundays was so ingrained that not do so was unthinkable. The English tradition, of course, is some version of the Sunday roast and two veg. Usually roast beef, maybe Yorkshire pudding, mashed potatoes, gravy and a cooked vegetable. Or a leg of lamb with mint sauce. It was also the midday meal, or early afternoon in a churchgoing family.
I had varied the routine quite a bit, and being a regular churchgoer* I had moved the meal to Sunday evening. It wasn’t the standard English meal. It might be fish–salmon, cod, mahi mahi, with rice or potatoes and a cooked fresh vegetable like green beans or broccoli. In the winter I would fix a pot of soup or spaghetti, and in the summer a cold dish like pasta salad or shrimp.
A few months ago something happened–I don’t even remember what–that made me not feel like fixing a meal on Sunday afternoon. We might have had a big lunch, or I was just worn out from 24 hours with the granddaughter. Whatever it was, I just told my husband he was on his own and we could both pick at whatever we felt like.
It felt great! One reason fixing Sunday dinner had become stressful was trying to time it for the end of a football game or a golf match; 10 minutes on the football clock is 30 in real time, and golf matches sometimes go into playoffs. It was frustrating to prepare a nice meal and tap my foot while waiting for a game to end. Since my epiphany, I heat leftovers, make myself a salad or open a can of soup. I read the Sunday paper while Gary watches football. He might have cheese and crackers and a sliced apple or popcorn with almonds or peanuts added.
Several years ago a counselor asked me if it was absolutely necessary for a couple to always have dinner together. Because I am a firm believer that families–even if it’s two people–should sit down together for meals as much as possible, I told him it was. He said he and his wife often just go their own way and eat (or not) when they please. I was amazed.
Now I get it. I still value family meals and try to make sure we eat together when we don’t have other commitments. But I have relaxed enough (thanks, Prozac) to be flexible, to take our meal into the living room once in a while, even with a grandchild (who was thrilled the first time I allowed it).
An unexpected benefit: I gained weight on weekends. Stepping on the scale Monday morning, I knew I’d have to do some “course correction” to make up for the extra calories. This morning I was pleased to see that I lost weight this past weekend!
*Although I left traditional religion at age 18, I found the Unitarian Universalist church about 20 years later. Although I go to church regularly and my faith community is a big part of my life, I don’t consider myself “religious” in the sense that I think most mainline Christians would. But that is another blog post.