By Jackie Sorensen
In February our thoughts naturally turn to “LOVE”, often of the romantic nature, but I wanted to share some thoughts about creating loving family relationships, especially for those of us with blended families. First, a brief family history: I have a 28 year old daughter, and the man I have chosen to spend the rest of my life with (Mike) has 3 children, 30, 32 and 34 years of age respectively. His oldest daughter and her husband have a 6 year old son. Mike and I have been together 10 years. Two of our daughters got married in 2013 within 4 months of each other (Aug. and Dec.) so when it came time for gift-giving this past Christmas, both time and money was in short supply. So, in a rare moment of early morning silence only days before Christmas, I sat down to consider a meaningful and possibly creative gift for my family that didn’t involve the combat zone of the mall or maxing out the credit card. I also wanted to in some way honor my ongoing commitment to trying to knit together our blended families so that our parents (ages 82 and 95), siblings, children, grandson, and hopefully, future grandchildren will know the blessing of a loving and well-connected extended family.
And so was born Second Sunday Suppers. My gift to my family was to cook dinner for them all every second Sunday of the month for the year 2014. An essential component of this gift was that there was absolutely no obligation on their part: no need to RSVP, no need to bring a dish or chip in money, no need to help clean up, and no guilt for just not showing up at all. Some of our family live out of town, but were invited in case they were ever in the area on that day. Transportation would be provided for our more elderly family members, but all others did have to get to our house by their own means. This would be a simple meal with the sole purpose of enjoying each other’s company. If no one came, we would have plenty of leftovers!
And now, a Second Sunday Supper progress report: In January, I served spaghetti and meatballs, salad, garlic bread and strawberry shortcake for a party of 7. Since it was our first meal I did send out a group email with a reminder and those who were coming were gracious enough to let me know. My heart was gladdened when Mike’s daughter responded with, “Are you kidding? We already have all of the dates marked on our calendar!” Last night we had our second Second Sunday Supper with a different configuration of 8 family members. My daughter and her husband were attending an out-of-town wedding this weekend and texted, “Oh man, we’re going to miss Second Sunday Supper!” I decided to use February’s meal (and future ones) as an opportunity to try at least 1 new recipe and so made a pot of roasted butternut squash soup, together with rotisserie chicken from Costco, potatoes and carrots, and make-your-own ice cream sundaes (big hit). My family typically shows up right at 5:00 pm and stays until 7-7:30. Time has been spent around the dinner table catching up with each other, talking about how school and new jobs are progressing, reminiscing about the past, and….Papa and his grandson learning and performing magic tricks together!
At the end of the evening I choose to believe everyone leaves with a full stomach, ribs and jaws which ache from so much laughter, and a joy-filled heart and spirit. I know that I do. Little did I know that this would be not only a labor of love, but a precious gift of love for me as well.