This Sunday we had leftover Chinese food for dinner. We had gotten takeout earlier in the week and Brandon, planning ahead, ordered enough to have leftovers for Sunday dinner. Church had finished quite early because we were the only ones attending that day, so Brandon and I got a two-hour nap before eating lunch at 1:30.
After everyone finished up dinner, we threw away the takeout containers and put our dishes in the dishwasher.
Cleanup finished, I pulled out the five dozen cookies and frosting I had made the day before. We all spent an hour or so decorating cookies, loaded them up on plates, and dropped them off at a few friends' houses (mostly men whose wives weren't around to bake them their own Christmas cookies).
Service for the day finished, we read our Advent scriptures, let the lucky child open the chocolate door while everyone else watched and anticipated their own turn to come, and ate our fill of Christmas cookies. Then the children went to bed, and Brandon and I spent some time reading and relaxing.
It was a wonderful Sunday and truly a day of rest. I didn't do any cooking (well, Sophia did cook scrambled eggs this morning), I got a nap, the family spent some pleasant time together, we served people in our community, and the children were in bed by seven.
My Sundays haven't always been like this, and until recently they have been much more stressful. I have always viewed Sunday as the day of the tastiest dinner of the week. All of the good food that I don't have time to cook on the weekdays I cook on Sundays. Homemade spring rolls (made with homemade wrappers because Central Asia)? Let's do them on Sunday! Chicken tikka masala with parathas and deep-fried pakoras? Lots of time to cook after church! Fresh whole wheat pasta with tomato cream sauce? Sunday!
I sometimes have a weird sense of standards and felt like Sunday was the day when my family deserved to have all of the good food. But that usually meant three or four hours in the kitchen every Sunday, no nap, and not much time to do much other than cook and clean. I would usually be exhausted by the end of the day and not ready at all for Monday.
Brandon, being the voice of logic, often asked me to do something else for dinner - like tuna fish sandwiches - but I just couldn't give up the idea of making tasty dinners on Sunday.
But this year one of my resolutions was to try and at least do some of the dinner preparations for Sunday the day before. Some weeks I have been better than others, but I have gradually gotten used to thinking about Sunday dinner before Saturday night rolled around and Brandon was running to the store at nine in the evening.
I've been used to treating Saturday as play day - something you can do when a housekeeper cleans your house, shops for you, and the children fold the laundry. But there is less time for playing when you make chicken pot pie on Saturday in addition to whatever meal there is for Saturday evening. We have definitely hiked a lot less, something that nobody that me has missed, but we can go hiking if I take the time to plan things in advance.
It's also helped to lower my standards. If we lived in America, Sunday would be frozen food day. Instead we have random leftovers, sandwiches, crockpot meals, takeout bought the day before, and boxed pasta. Part of me still dies a little every time we have something quick and easy for Sunday dinner, but in the end, calories are the same whether they come from some meal that took two hours to cook or something that was made two days ago and reheated.
And it turns my Sunday into an actual day of rest instead of a day spent slaving away in the kitchen to make something that will only be a memory half an hour after it's done.
Having an actual day of rest has been wonderful for me, and even more, to Brandon. He works hard all week and truly appreciates a day without the relentless schedule driving it. I also enjoy having time with the children where I'm not making them do some sort of work. It's wonderful to have time set aside where I can just spend time with my family without the structured schedule of the rest of the week. I love feeling like I have had a day that is a break from the rest of my week. I never realized how amazing it would be until I actually got a day of real rest.
And if it takes old Chinese takeout to make it happen instead of gourmet meals, I guess I'll take it.