Pizza night is sacred in our house.
Pizza night is our Friday night ritual. We gather together after the week – setting aside preoccupations such as my seemingly never-ending rotation of chore lists and my 5 year-old’s concern that his brother will surreptitiously demolish his newly constructed Duplo bridge. My husband will silence his phone. I will make a salad from whatever veggies are lying around. My mom will arrive bearing home baked goodies. We will eat pizza delivered from our favorite local joint, the same selections every week (cheese for the boys, supreme for my husband and eggplant ricotta for my mom and me). The adults may or may not open a bottle of red wine. We will pray, eat, chat and decompress.
After the dishes are cleared, the family will traipse upstairs for the Disney movie du jour. I will secretly hope the boys will choose Encanto but they will more likely have already chosen Cars 2. My husband will remark that since they’re already interested in the world of international espionage, they will undoubtedly be ready for James Bond before we know it. I will roll my eyes.
At intermission, or as my 2 year-old says miss-on, we will pause the movie and my mom will divvy up whatever brownies or cookies she has brought. We are split in dessert preferences so she is meticulous in rotating the offerings from week to week. Accompanying the dessert will either be milk for the kids or cappuccinos for the adults. Much to the delight of the occasional pizza night guest, the cappuccinos will be prepared by our son, who mastered daddy’s espresso machine at the age of 3. He still needs a hoist onto the counter and assistance pouring into the milk frother but otherwise does it entirely himself. We return upstairs to conclude the movie.
A few weeks back, I took a sip of my Malbec as I surveyed the scene. Pixar’s jumping light hopped onto the screen, the sight of which never fails to invoke squeals of delight. My littlest guy had taken his blankie and snuggled next to my husband. My mom and older son were on the floor, busily multitasking with a new jigsaw puzzle. Our family cat, a Pizza Night aficionado, both because of the prospect of dropped crusts and for the extra ear scratches, sauntered into room as if on cue. On that particular evening, the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas (January 28) had fallen on Pizza Night.
Becoming aware of the glass in my hand, I remembered a quote from the Aquinas’ Summa Theologia. And no, if you’re wondering, I have never made it all the way through the tome.
“Sorrow can be alleviated by good sleep, a bath and a glass of wine.”
I started to think about St. Thomas Aquinas, this giant even among other Doctors of the Church. I ruminated about his intellectual contributions to western civilization.
Amid all his scholarship and all his accomplishments, St. Thomas Aquinas knew something intrinsic that we in modern society frequently forget or deprioritize – the power of rest and of small pleasures.
I imagine that many families have their own version of Pizza Night, a specific meal or a specific activity that happens from week-to-week or month-to-month. These are rituals. These are holy spaces. When we pause our “daily life” long enough to appreciate each other and honor these relationships, we intentionally allow God into our family life. We cement our roles as domestic churches.
All of this from pizza and a movie – I would like to think that St. Thomas Aquinas would approve.