What I miss most

Despite the fear, anxiety, and tragedy of this pandemic year, I’ve managed to keep my spirits on an even keel for the most part. The privilege of being able to minimize my personal risks is the main reason. Meditation and prayer help, as does getting outdoors as much as possible. Finding purpose in work, helping, and creating can shift my balance. Having family and friends with whom I can talk, laugh, move, and just be present are gifts beyond measure.

So I was a bit startled when tears welled in my eyes and spilled down my cheeks recently when I was reading a cookbook. Yup, you read that right. See You on Sunday by Sam Sifton brought me to tears.

Those who know me well may not be particularly surprised by this. I come from a “foodie family,” one where we talk about recipes and meals (actual and planned) all the time, usually while eating. Creations — pies, bread, gnocchi, grilled meat, cookies (oh, the cookies!) — are shared in group texts and Instagram posts and stories.

But we all know it’s about more than the food. It’s the practice and love of preparing food for others and sharing with others that runs deep in our veins.

And that — the breaking bread in our homes and eating together with glad and sincere hearts (to paraphrase Acts 2:46) — is what I miss most. And why I wept when I read through Sifton’s beautiful tribute and simple guide to Sunday suppers.

The point of Sunday dinner is just to have it. Even if you don’t particularly like entertaining, there is great pleasure to be had in cooking for others, and great pleasure to be taken from the experience of gathering to eat with others. Sunday dinner isn’t a dinner party. It is not entertainment. It’s just a fact…. It makes life a little better, almost every time.

See You on Sunday, Sam Sifton

I vowed to myself — and now to you, blog — that when we’re able to gather indoors again, Sunday supper will become a regular occurrence at our home. It’ll be loud with talk, tears, and laughter, clattering of dishes and pans, clinks of glasses. There will be days when we don’t feel like doing it, but we will. Sometimes we’ll have to scramble to make enough to fill everyone’s plate or glass. Occasionally the food will be overdone or under-seasoned (or vice versa), but most nights it’ll be tasty.

But every night, it’ll be glorious — nourishing for body and spirit — because we’ll be together around a crowded table*.

The door is always open
Your picture’s on my wall
Everyone’s a little broken
And everyone belongs

I want a house with a crowded table
And a place by the fire for everyone
Let us take on the world while we’re young and able
And bring us back together when the day is done

“Crowded Table” by The Highwomen

* It’s no surprise that this song was the title of the family playlist on Spotify that my brother and niece put together for our clan’s Thanksgiving celebrations. Go ahead and give it a listen.

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