Sunday Stomach

We call it Sunday Stomach.

Although all of her little birds have flown the coop, Sunday dinner at Gramma’s usually starts around 5:00 pm on weekends when she’s not working. Offerings include a protein, a starch, at least three different colored veggies and dessert. You may not have room for it, but there’s always either pie or cake and definitely ice cream to go with it. At the minimum, there are eight of us, but when there’s a full house it can get up to 17 or 18. I don’t ever recall a time when someone has ever been turned away from a meal at Mary’s. We’ve brought friends for Halloween dinners, picnics, and they’ve experienced Sunday Stomach first hand themselves.

Whenever the weather allows, we try to eat outside on the patio that’s right off the kitchen door. Otherwise, that’s a lot of people to fit around one table in a kitchen. What seems like a typical Thanksgiving gathering for some families is an average Sunday for us. We all try to help in some way. Rob and Jason are good at grilling. Debby and Mike are the dish masters. I’m usually the bringer of the ice cream so I help dish out treats. Logan and Erin take orders for desserts. Meghan tries to play “match the lid to the Tupperware” in order to find containers for the leftovers. Then it’s time to play refrigerator Jenga. Ian runs to the basement to fetch drinks for anyone who asks.

Of course, everyone has a favorite meal. Mary will take requests when it’s a special day like a birthday or anniversary. Frequent fliers include four pounds of meatloaf or two trays of lasagna. I’ve been coming to Sunday dinner on the regular since around 1987 when Rob and I first started dating. After all that time, If I had to pick the number one favorite it would probably be homemade pierogies. Any sense of self-restraint or portion control goes completely out the window. Dig your favorite dip out of the fridge and go for it. There are plenty to go around.

BUT – there’s a paradox. You don’t want to stop eating because you get so full but you CAN’T STOP and blammo. Sunday Stomach. We lurch into our cars like bears looking for a cave in which to hibernate. Every time. “Why do we do this every week?” my husband grunts at me. I grunt back, “Idonnknooooow”.

We’re really not gluttons! Meals during the week aren’t nearly as lavish. There’s just something about dinner at Gramma’s that takes the concept of Balance and just throws it off a cliff. Is it the comfort of being around familiar food and faces? Are we trying to recapture something that we never really lost? Is it the beautiful connection of a family that fills both our hearts and our bellies? All I know is that we are beyond blessed to have each other and Mary is a hell of a chef. Sometimes it takes losing a little balance in your life to make you realize how very lucky you are.

Thank goodness she shares recipes.

Karen Padden

Karen, Queen of the Paddens and first of her name. Teacher, Baker, Petter of Cats, Multiple Sneezer and Crocheter of Wubbies. Believes in kindness, always.

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