Growing up in a home where my dad often preached or taught on Sundays, our evening meal wasn’t really “dinner” in the official sense. My mom, known for her delicious pot roast, often had one in the oven so when we came home from church the house smelled wonderful. Nothing spoke Sunday lunch more clearly than pot roast, carrots, potatoes, and rolls. This meant that Sunday nights were a low-key affair. No main course, no vegetable, no side, no bread. Instead, a bowl of cereal or a scrambled egg counted as the main course. Add a bowl of popcorn, an apple, a piece of dessert, and you had a meal. Nobody cared if you ate a vegetable or had a balanced plate.
This tradition of eating snacks for Sunday dinner carried into our family even though I rarely cooked a “formal” meal after church. I was never opposed to making pot roast for Sunday lunch, but the habit never stuck. More often than not, we ate leftover pizza from Friday night’s dinner. However, the habit that did stick was snacks for Sunday dinner.
Some of our family favorites included nachos, popcorn, apples, carrot sticks, cheese slices, and whatever bits remained in the refrigerator. Sometimes we would make shakes, which Jacob and Anna loved. Occasionally when I would ask the kids what they wanted for dinner, I would hear “I want snicky-snacks for dinner.” Every once in a while I would actually “make” snacks for a weeknight meal, going against my vegetable-loving, balanced meal ways.
Last night Anna and I had snicky-snacks for Sunday dinner. Brad and Jacob are out of town for a college visit so it was just the two of us. I fixed some nachos, popped some popcorn, peeled a few carrots, and called it good. We watched a movie while eating our dinner.
These days I am keenly aware that in a few years it will only be Brad and I hanging out on a Sunday night. Already I miss the sweet, child-like voice asking for “snicky snacks for dinner.” Perhaps that is why I am grateful for these simple mealtime rituals. My memory bag is filled with images of the homes we have lived in over the years—946 N. Spring St, 48 W 48th Ave, and 721 Greer St.—and the many Sunday nights our family shared snacks for dinner. That’s the beauty of ritual. It isn’t limited to a particular place, but anchors daily life with its practice wherever home may be.