By Marie Snider
Our family has a long-time tradition of eating out for Sunday dinner. We often go to a place called Water’s Edge, where we can look out over a beautiful lake as we enjoy our meal.
It’s a special treat. We have good conversation and good food. And best of all, no one has to clean up!
But for some reason, I didn’t much feel like going out last Sunday, so I advised everyone that I was putting a meatloaf in the oven after church.
For some families, meatloaf wouldn’t be much of a delicacy. But for my family, meatloaf is a real treat. In the first place, we don’t eat much meat. And in the second place, it’s been at least 10 years since I’ve made a real old-fashioned meatloaf.
So after church, I began my simple meal, consisting of meatloaf, broiled sweet potatoes, baked beans, spinach salad with walnuts and mandarin oranges, raspberry pie with ice cream, and coffee.
After the meatloaf was in, I got the idea of putting a white tablecloth on the table. Then, one thing led to another.
Next, we set the table with our bone china dinnerware and my mother’s silverware–a gift from my father, monogrammed with her initial (‘D’ for Dorothy, or Dot as my dad used to call her).
For dessert, I used a set of forks from my grandmother, monogrammed with her initials.
Candles, fresh daffodils, and cloth napkins finished the table.
As we ate, we reminisced. The beautiful sterling spoon in the beans was a wedding present from my Aunt Lena, who wasn’t really an aunt at all but a wonderful neighbour.
And with our dessert, we used cups from our large collection of bone china cups and saucers, many of which were gifts.
But the one cup that is too special to use was from my husband’s Aunt Minerva. The cup is covered with gold trim.
I didn’t know Aunt Minerva well, but she was a very interesting person. At a time when there weren’t many career women, she was the head of a nursing school in Stratford, Ont. and was part of a group that started the famed Shakespeare festival there in the early 1950s.
As we talked, I fetched other heirlooms to share their stories: my baby spoon with a curved handle, and the small silver table service our children used when they were young.
It was an elegant walk down memory lane.
My husband led a beautiful prayer just right for the occasion. “For all this beauty, this food, and this celebration. We give you thanks.”
Later in the day, my son called it a “special occasion for no reason at all.”
It wasn’t the delicate china or the silverware or the depression glass candlesticks that made the meal so special. It was the memories these things brought back, the people we recalled, and the warm feeling of sitting around the table as a family–celebrating our shared history.
Why don’t you try it sometime soon? Dust off those heirlooms that are hiding away in a china closet or stuffed in a drawer. And sit down with your family or a few good friends to share the stories they recall.
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.visit-snider.com
By Marie Snider