Sundays were full of traditions in my family. After church, we normally ate an Italian lunch which my mother prepared on Saturday. I remember the smell of what our Italian relatives called “gravy” in a huge stainless steel pot, gently bubbling tomatoes, garlic, spices, a pork roast, and hand rolled meatballs. My mother left the gravy simmering for hours until my father could stand it no longer and would rip off a piece of Italian bread, dip it in the gravy and announce it was “good!”

After dishes were washed (by hand), the whole family got into the car and went for a Sunday drive. To be honest, there are few scenic roads in and around Wichita, Kansas. We were not close to any large bodies of water, there were no mountains. The landscape was flat as a board, dry, and basically would never even make the Top Thousand List of Scenic Road Trips in the U.S. Cell phones were not even a glimmer on the technical horizon then, so our family was captive, together, with two choices…talk to each other or not talk to each other. We talked.

No, we weren’t the Waltons. We were an Italian family. My father thought he sang like the Italian operatic tenor, Enrico Caruso, and we were a captive audience for him to perform. My mother had an uncanny ability to ask leading questions to get my brother and me to talk about what was going on in our lives. Looking back, she would have been a great addition to the F.B.I. interrogation team. Before we knew it, Tony was revealing things about me I hadn’t planned to share and vice versa. After an hour or so, we had enough togetherness and headed home.

My father watched whatever sport was in season on our ONE television set after we arrived at home. My mother took her traditional Sunday nap, and my brother and I usually went to our separate corners (our bedrooms) to escape from one another. It was a quiet time. Time to think. Time to read a book. Time to just do nothing but lay on my bed if I wanted.

After my mother’s nap, sometimes she would remove a dishtowel covering an expanded ball of dough in a large ceramic bowl, punch it around, and roll it out into a circle, layer mozzarella cheese, pepperoni and lots of other good things on top. Walla, amazing to think that pizza wasn’t always delivered to your door or bought frozen in a box. That was supper.

I recently planned a MiraBay Girls event. We went to Solomon’s Castle which is in Ona, Florida. It’s in the middle of nowhere, on a road that few would ever travel because it is not a scenic highway without any ocean views or mountains. How did I discover it? On a Sunday drive with my husband. No, I don’t cook big Sunday Italian meals anymore, but some traditions like naps and drives –  they’re worth keeping.