How Brunch Keeps My Busy Family Present — with Tips for Creating Your Own Brunch Tradition at Home

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Credit: Christina Getachew

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The air hung hazy and filled the kitchen with the smells of caramelized onions and potatoes frying on the stove. We caught the whiff of caraway seed in the sausage links under foil keeping warm.

My dad loved making brunch on Sunday. I was 9 years old, and my sister was 5, and we would spend weekends with him in his sparsely furnished apartment, a short drive from the house we called home with our mother. His dining set was the reclaimed wooden picnic table and benches from our patio that he’d painted white, I assume, to make it look less like our former outdoor furniture. He was an electrical engineer in middle-management, and also a Black father of two girls navigating a messy divorce. We were his impatient, often hangry sous chefs.

Still, he took his time peeling potatoes, chopping onions, carefully turning sizzling slices of bacon, and eventually directing us when it was time to set the table. He filled this time with a father’s love and joy, while taking a break from the stresses of life, work, and everything else he could not control. 

Credit: Christina Getachew

When our furnace stopped working last March, at the beginning of quarantine, I took refuge in our kitchen. It was the only room that felt warm. My daughters stayed in their bedrooms, their shoulders wrapped in blankets and hunched over tablet screens in virtual school. I kept the news on listening for snippets of certainty in the reporting about the pandemic. There would be none.

Making brunch for [my family] every Sunday brought normal to an abnormal time.

My husband spent weeknights at a satellite apartment close to the hospital where he worked. He was home with us most weekends. Having my family safe and healthy under one roof was a privilege that we could not squander.

Making brunch for them every Sunday brought normal to an abnormal time. I had control of the menu and could make up for all the unhealthy take out or nights we’d eaten brownies and ice cream for dinner. It gave us a chance to be present for one another after long, difficult weeks. Brunch steadied and nourished us.

Credit: Christina Getachew

My dad passed away five years ago. If he were still around, I imagine our first post-pandemic reunion would include one of his Sunday brunches. Today, I’m left to wonder if he knew the power of his Sunday morning ritual. It’s a legacy I’m claiming and giving space to as I pass it on to his granddaughters. I look forward to bringing together larger groups of family and friends for brunch when we can gather again. Until then, I’ll continue to find and share grace and inspiration for my favorite meal prep of the week.

Here are my tips for starting your own brunch tradition:

  1. Make a fresh baked treat, still warm from the oven, the center piece. Try this drop biscuit recipe. Pastries from your favorite bakery, microwaved for 15–20 seconds, taste like you made them.
  2. Chop up fresh fruit you have on hand like apples, berries, or oranges. I like to use more than one type of fruit because it adds color and texture to the spread.
  3. Prepare some eggs your favorite way and supplement with leftovers. Check the refrigerator for savory side dishes like rice and beans, roasted vegetables, grilled meats or cheeses.
  4. Arrange all the components on a big cutting board. It’s the perfect family-style serving tray. Everyone can help themselves to the beautiful bounty.
  5. If weather and space permit, bring your meal outdoors. A change of scenery can make a familiar tradition feel new and exciting.