Donna Ryan / featured blog / Lifestyle & Retirement

Sunday Dinner

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Sunday Dinner
AFL's Donna Ryan

AFL’s Donna Ryan

Do you remember being a kid and all you  could do on Sunday was go to church and then spend the rest of the day with family having dinner?

I do!

My very hard working Mother would return home from 9 AM mass, change out of her church clothes and into her cobbler apron and start preparing a Sunday dinner which was either roast beef or roast chicken.  This meal was served sharply at 1:00 and despite not always loving the idea I knew I better be there.   Sometimes my Aunt Hilda would join us, or better yet, we loved it when she hosted it as we enjoyed going to her house.  When Aunt Hilda was part of the Sunday dinner ritual we hurried to do the dishes for we knew a game of Michigan Rummy would be the fun afternoon course before coffee and cake were served.

Back then you could not go to the bank, grocery store or shopping mall as everything was closed.   Spending time with family was all there was to do.

Now please do not misunderstand, I am not trying to say that life was a magical fairy tale back then because we had our ups and downs believe me.  Thinking back on it I felt it was the most boring day of the week and always wished Mom would prepare something other than roast beef and chicken.

Thinking back on those “boring” Sunday dinners I now wish I could get a few back.  It would be great if we could learn to stop doing and simply spend time together.

I know it is unrealistic to ask everyone to stop chores on Sundays! People are so busy and wish they had 8 days of the week let alone lose a day.  They can barely find time to grocery shop let alone prepare a weekly Sunday dinner.

I have been giving this a lot of thought the past month or so and I really want to bring Sunday Dinner back into my life but there is no way I am ever having a complete meal prepared at 1:00 sharp every week.  In order for me to achieve this goal I need to create a new definition of Sunday Dinner and it cannot be boring.

Once I got my wheels turning and got Kevin somewhat on board (he is not giving up his devices) we have been quite successful.  We made a vow we were not doing any shopping or big projects on Sunday.  We are learning to do things like a nice IHOP breakfast after mass, an afternoon movie, a walk to get an Italian ice or simply sit and catch up on shows we DVR’d.      Occasionally I can guilt family members to join us.  We had a fun day a few weeks ago at the Georgia State Fair where we ate junk all day and watched the children having so much fun on the rides.    Oh as I type this I smile thinking of how I did not realize the carousel was only for children and after clumsily getting my body onto the horse I was told I was not allowed to be on there.  Some may have been embarrassed but not me.  It was Sunday Dinner.  Aunt Donna is definitely not boring!!!!

The point of this article is I sometimes get so comfortable in the world of emails and texts.   I cannot truly know how someone is by reading words on a little screen.  I am learning the importance of quieting down and spending time together.  That is how I really know the answer to How R U?

Had I not lived during a time of boring Sundays I would have lost out on an incredible gift of a beautiful relationship with my Aunt.  Had the mall been open I am sure I would have snuck out and lost all of those countless hours with her.  Back then, no matter how hard life was Monday through Saturday I knew I had someone I could run to and communicate with who would hug me and understand.

I also learned respect from my MEAN MOTHER who made us eat that SUNDAY DINNER

I am learning that Sunday dinner can be a big meal prepared for two or ten, a banquet at a restaurant, or a pre-cooked meal that only needs reheating.  Heck, I don’t care it could be a day of junk-food eating.   Or it could be a day not defined by food at all.

I now know Kevin and I can enjoy Sunday dinner home alone or with a crowd.  It is not always  possible to actually see and hug others so its fine to phone chat and face time.  Communication, listening and hearing a voice not reading a screen.  And of course there are those Sundays where you do need to just rest.

To my friends and family, especially my son back in New York I now live in Atlanta and I am not in your life the way I wish – but I am so blessed and cherish each face time moment we share.   I get to see you and for this I am grateful it is not 1960, for we have the opportunity to talk “in person” despite being miles apart.

Sunday Dinner is time spent being together, listening to one another, looking into each others faces and having conversations, laughter, fun,  but most important  an understanding how hard life can be.  It is a time. to stop the wear and tear we live all week long.

Everyone has a battle in this life.  We had them back in 1960 too.   Reading stories of pain on a screen and actually living in pain are entirely different.  It is somewhat easy to read a message and then shut the device off and step into your little world.   It sure is nice for the person in pain to know that every now and then there are two words to look forward to which are Sunday Dinner.

No matter the year I feel we all need a little time each week  where we can share our joys and sorrows, gifts and challenges and be supported in return.  We all need the sense of feeling we belong.  Whether we want to admit it or not we all need Sunday dinner.

I would be lying if I didn’t wish that maybe one day my idea will become contagious and everyone might do it too.   I cannot expect life to happen as I wish it to be so for now I must work on creating my memories.  I smile as my wheels turn thinking of all the countless possibilities of loving, fun, caring chats, outings, hugs, dinners, and special moments to come.

Life changes and it is no longer mandatory I eat roast beef and chicken at 1:00 every week but thanks to my revised definition I look forward to many future Sunday Dinners.

Editor’s Note:  Visit AFL member Donna Ryan at her website:  She says, “I have always thrived on inspiration. I love reading it everywhere I can find it. I am 57 and it has been a journey with many twists and turns. I invite all 50+ women to join me in discussions on this second chapter. Our road ahead is fun and exciting because these truly are the best days of our lives.”

I thrive on inspiration; I read it every day and I try to live and share it through my actions. Stepping out of our comfort zone can be very frightening. I have learned that I will never grow if I don’t face fear! I encourage all women to join me on this sometimes weird and scary adventure. Let’s discuss all sorts of things from makeup colors, to recipes, books, funny jokes and everything in between. We are on this journey together so let’s gather around and share our stories, dreams, and goals as well as happy and sad times too. You name it; we can do it! We are fifty something and these are the best days of our lives. No matter what the circumstances you are living you are only a keystroke away from friends that care! So join the circle of the 50plusstickingtogether friendship chain. Let’s keep learning, growing and inspiring each other together. It’s Never Too Late!!! Visit AFL member Donna Ryan at her website:

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