Sunday Dinner an Institution in Our Home
I have always been an advocate of a lovely and special Sunday dinner. Lest I be misunderstood, let me hasten to add: a dinner mostly prepared on Saturday and not prepared on Sunday morning by the mother of the family.
In the home in which I was privileged to be born and reared, along with nine others, the Sabbath was recognized as a holy day, a very special day, and a very special dinner, as the noon meal was called in the country, was reverently and gratefully and joyously enjoyed. In fact, Sunday dinner was an institution in our home, an institution which contributed to Sabbath worship and welded us together as a family unit.
I recall that those Sunday dinners meant so much to us that when one or more of our number accepted an invitation to eat at the home of a friend, it was done with a feeling of regret that we must forego the pleasure of being with our own family, dressed up and dignified, yet joyously free, enjoying a dinner that simply could not be duplicated, a warm, appetizing dinner, for Mama said we needed a good meal before we went quietly and happily back to sacrament meeting at two o'clock, and that Papa needed such nourishment also to bear up under his stern responsibilities.
Never will any of us forget that meal of roast chicken and dressing, or chicken fried or stewed, or roast beef and brown gravy, with dried corn with cream sauce, mashed potatoes (creamed with separator cream), vegetables mostly of our own raising, fresh and cooked, pickles--Mama had made, home-canned or home-pickled fresh fruit, homemade bread and home-churned butter (molded with a sheaf of grain on top of each half pound), and always, always an extra special cake. Even now I can see Mama's masterpiece, three-layer yellow cake with boiled cream, vanilla-flavored filling, and sliced bananas in between the layers and on top. No wonder childhood friends loved to eat Sunday dinner with us.
Sunday morning was orderly, with all of us preparing for Sunday School. Each knew his task, for our home functioned as a small democracy. Dinner would be left on the back of the stove or in the oven or warming oven of the old black Home Comfort wood-and-coal-burning range during Sunday School. No one was left at home to do the finishing touches, for 10 A.M. found Papa and Mama, with all of us children, clean and shining, in our places in Sunday School, unless illness prevented.
A little after twelve noon found us on our way home, where each had his part to do to get dinner on, some just tending the little ones, putting on bibs, and placing the chairs at the table, while others mashed the potatoes and did the few last touches necessary to the perfection of the meal. There was no dallying, nor did we feel rushed.
Dinner was served family style and leisurely enjoyed with Mama a queen in her own right. I remember at those dinners it seemed we were in the presence of royalty. And who shall say we were not? We were privileged to have many wonderfully fine and chosen people in our home. Papa was superintendent of the Sunday School and a counselor in the bishopric for twenty-five years and held other offices, as well, and Mama was president of the Relief Society, and stake visitors to the different organizations and to ward conferences, ate dinner at our home, (it was near the church) and sometimes stayed overnight, for in those days they drove several miles with the horse and buggy. Always they left their blessing in our home. I remember more than once when member of the stake presidency and others in their talks in sacrament meeting told of what a wonderful housekeeper, mother, and cook Mama was; of the exceptionally good warm dinner they had enjoyed with no one staying home to prepare it.
Time cannot dim, but rather enhances my memory of the joy of the Sabbath in my childhood home. Often now as my own family, which has decreased to three, sits down to Sunday dinner, I see again a long, simply, yet beautifully set, bountifully laden table with twelve of us around it, our heads reverently bowed while the blessing is being said. I see mama smiling, as her eyes, glowing with pride, happiness, and contentment, go from face to shining face, and I hear papa, say, his voice vibrant with gratitude, "Children are an heritage of the Lord. Blessed is he who hath his quiver full of them."