The wrangling and of pots and pans early in the morning was always the first sounds of a Sunday. I’d always force myself to stay in bed a while longer because it really was way too early, even for a kid and besides, I knew the next of my senses to be attacked.
I’m not sure how much longer after hearing the pots and pans it was, but my sense of smell was the next to force me to a wakened state and while it would be normal for the stomach to be aching for standard breakfast fare, the nose and the stomach seemed to work in concert craving a taste of Mom’s homemade tomato sauce simmering on the stove; even in its early stages.
Before breakfast was served, it wasn’t too hard to convince Mom for a taste of the sauce so a spoon was dipped into the pot and I had my fill while the eggs were frying, the bagels toasting, and the family was gathering at our unusual keyhole shaped kitchen table to fill our bellies just enough to hold us over until our late afternoon “Sunday meal”.
I put “Sunday meal” in quotes to emphasize how different it was from that of any other day and how traditional it was each and every Sunday. A typical Sunday started with breakfast. We passed over lunch in favor of a snack, which for me was almost always a piece of bread with a slice of cheese on top then another spoonful of the simmering sauce in the next stage of its deliciousness.
Dinner was usually around 3 or 4pm instead of the usual weekday 6pm meal time. And, Sundays always brought visitors to share the Sunday feast with us. In fact, there was a period of years where my “Uncle” Joe (not really a relative, but a term of respect for an elder who was related to a relative) would come over every Sunday in the late morning and spend the day with us. My parents would spend a part of their Saturday at a slaughterhouse and purchase large quantities of un-butchered meats. My “Uncle” Joe, a butcher by trade, would spend several hours on Sunday butchering the large slabs of meats into human sized portions and was handsomely rewarded with Mom’s traditional Sunday feast (and a ride home later in the evening).
Because dinner was so early and lunch was pretty much skipped, there was an evening snack time that for some reason, at least in my memory, was always fun and varied. Sometimes it was just leftovers, sometimes it was a pizza pie (which was fun because we could choose from any of four or five local pizzeria’s that all were within a few block radius and would deliver). Whatever the food item was, there was often a dessert to follow which meant coffee for the adults (usually espresso), and more often than not, Italian pastries from Capri bakery on Avenue U. Sometimes in the summer, the ice cream man would chime his bells during this time and we’d all go running to the front street while asking for money so that we could each get a cold treat.
These were seemingly such simpler times. Everything feels so much more stressful and far less memorable now. I wonder if Mom and Dad have kept up this Sunday tradition in Heaven with all of our family members who’ve passed on. I know that just thinking about those days I can still relive the act of breaking off a piece of Italian bread and dipping it into the pot of sauce, sometimes without permission first, always worth the risk of disciplinary action.