“In truth a family is what you make it. It is made strong, not by number of heads counted at the dinner table, but by the rituals you help family members create, by the memories you share, by the commitment of time, caring, and love you show to one another, and by the hopes for the future you have as individuals and as a unit.” Marge Kennedy
I come from a large family – 25 members on my father’s side and 20 members on my mother’s side. Needless to say, our family gatherings were very loud. Every Sunday from the time I was a little girl I had the pleasure (and sometimes torture) of having Sunday Dinner at my grandparents’ house. Each week was like a family reunion. This was the time everyone would get together and break bread, gorge themselves with pasta, and drink wine.
The house would always smell of gravy (or for you non-Italians out there – red pasta sauce). All the cousins would play outside until we were called for dinner. The adults would gather at one long table, while the children were forced to sit at the children’s table in the other room. I will never forget how every weekend my grandfather would allow one of us to sit at the adult table when we were done dinner, a special honor. After dinner the smell of coffee and sight of sweets would get the children’s attention and we would line up in anticipation (I was always the first in line!), while my grandfather and his three sons would fall asleep on the couch watching football.
As the years went on, our Sunday dinners happened less and less. My cousins and I started getting jobs, dating, and hanging out with our friends. The few times I did go during my teenage years it usually ended up just being my sister and I attending Sunday dinner with my grandparents. Once and awhile we would run into our cousins and say we needed to hang out soon and catch up, but it was just a fleeting moment.
About two years ago I received a phone call from my sister at work…my grandmother was in the hospital. After work I rushed with my family to the hospital. This was the first time in years my entire family was reunited. For a week we prayed, and stayed positive, but the inevitable soon came to be. On May 4th, 2011 my grandmother passed away from lung cancer.
Here at A Woman’s Place (AWP) one of our core values is respect. Respect is something my family always instilled in me. They taught me to respect my elders; respect my family and friends, and they taught me to respect our family traditions.
After my grandmother’s passing my cousins and I began having our own Sunday night dinners. The old tradition has now passed on to our generation. We miss our nonna and we are carrying on for her.
What family traditions are you creating?
Respect: A Woman’s Place is considerate and honors the worth
and dignity of all beings and resources.
*excerpt from the Values Statement of A Woman’s Place