My sophomore year in college and the summer after, I used to go to Sunday Night Dinner hosted by one of my friend's family. We would head over the house on Sunday evening, help finish preparations for dinner and just hang out. Their family was big, but they never had problems with inviting more people over. It was a lot of fun and I remember thinking how cool of an idea Sunday Night Dinner was. For various reasons my friendship with this girl became distanced, but I never forget how open and warm her family was for always welcoming me into their home. Sunday Night Dinner was such a new idea for me. When I lived with my parents we hardly ate dinner together because I was always off doing extracurricular events or in my room or whatnot. Holidays were our family meal time pretty much. In coming to Chile, I realized that those sort of weekend gathering are not so few and far inbetween because families here are much more united that families in the United States (sounds a bit ironic, doesn't it?). My host family would gather with my host mother's side of the family ever Saturday for a huge lunch with the grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. They would literally prepare a feast that would last a minimum of 4 hours. I really enjoyed going to these family lunches. At first it was a bit overwhelming, especially when my Spanish hadn't quite caught up to speaking Chilean, but after a while it just seemed normal. Sometimes I would feel like lunch lasted too long, especially for a Saturday because Saturdays are the days to go shopping and to the beach and whatnot. If the lunches had been on Sunday, I probably wouldn't have cared. But that's neither here nor there. The point is that Saturday Lunches en El Cerro Castillo (where the grandparents lived) was so much like Sunday Night Dinner.
My husband's family isn't quite the same breed as my host family. See, my host mother comes from an Italian family and they had a huge family that would always get together. My inlaws, on the other hand, are pretty much the only of the family that live in Viña and so there really aren't people to get together with. Of course when we go to Viña, we have lunch and most of the onces (afternoon snack that normally replaces dinner for us) with my inlaws and sister-in-law, but it is nothing like Sunday Night Dinner.
I miss Sunday Night Dinner. I miss that feeling of togetherness, the hustle and bustle of preparing the dinner, and catching up with everyone. Not even my own family has the same sort of vibe as Sunday Night Dinner or Saturday Lunches in El Cerro Castillo. My mom can even attest to that, she went to a lunch with my host family while she was here. I think it would be fun to start the tradition of one here in Santiago, but I doubt that it could be weekly. A lot of my friends travel some weekends (as do we) and also have their Chilean in-laws to be visiting. I also think I might die if I had to prepare a huge dinner or lunch every weekend....although if everyone pitched in to bring something, it wouldn't be so bad. And of course if people pitched in with the clean-up, that would be even more appreciated. I think shooting for once or twice a month would be fun. I would also prefer to do a lunch instead of diner. Everyone knows lunches in Chile are the principle meal and most of us would have to prepare ourselves for the week ahead, so having the evening free would give us the needed time. I wonder....anyone interested?
P.S. I had imagined this post going in a totally different direction when I first thought about writing it. In fact, I wanted to arrive at talking about Friday lunches at home, but I just never got there. I guess I'll save it for another post.