Osso Bucco with sauteed garlic and spinach can bring a family together better than a Christmas morning. It goes like this: around four every Sunday my dad comes home with grocery bags filled with fresh produce and newly cut meat. Around six, the smell of sizzling olive oil and an array of different seasonings fill the entire house. By seven my sister and I are trapped in the kitchen mooching off my dad for samples. We fill up on the Italian baguette. At eight, it’s time to set the table: five placemats, four bowls of food, three utensils, two candles, and one cat waiting for her share of the meal. At eight-thirty, we feast.
We’ve always been welcoming people, inviting different characters in our lives to join us in our weekly tradition. From long lost family members to new beaus, the mahogany table that sits in our dining room is used by all with rumbling stomachs. My dad uses this dinner time to summarize our weeks by asking detailed questions about our daily lives, my mother talks about Andy Roddick’s serve while my brother is intrigued with the meal and my sister is playing on her Nintendo. I use this time for thoughts and bonding. To my right I have my sister’s nine year old friend, whose knowledge is limited to recess and Justin Bieber. To my left I have my mom’s best friend from high school, who ended up as an Avon sales representative. Instead of eating, she’s asking why our skin isn’t flawless. My grandma is at the table, and as she eats she’s showering her grandkids with compliments and “I love you” cards. I, on the other hand, have my best friend who made the unknown mistake of hanging with me on a Sunday night.
I’ve learned to appreciate dinner. I’ve learned that even little sisters have problems and need advice from their older siblings. I’ve learned how hilarious my mom is as well as how my dad’s intimidating face is just an act. I’ve learned to stir the risotto clockwise, always. Never has being right where I am been so perfect.
I don’t make plans on Sunday night; I have a standing subconscious commitment because when someone’s missing from the table, dinner isn’t complete. I like my chair, my plate, my glass, my reserved spot. I like seeing my parents smile at each other over a nice glass of Pinot Noir. I like having my brother and sister by my side to joke around with. I like good food. I like having a comforting, good, feeling with those that I love over some mashed potatoes. I like Sunday dinner and I’ll be eagerly waiting for my first Sunday back from college.