At its heart, “Those Winter Sundays” is about love. No, not the ooey-gooey thing between young lovers like Romeo and Juliet, but the deep and serious familial love between a parent and a child. The type of love that gets you up at the crack of dawn, even when you’re exhausted from a long week of hard work. This love is quiet and brave; it’s not showy, there are no hugs and kisses and snuggles. That means, unfortunately, that it can easily slip by unnoticed.
As a kid, the speaker was an ungrateful little jerk who didn’t understand anything about the nature of love.
One’s perspective on love changes over time. The speaker was just a regular kid whose understanding of love grew as he grew older.
We only ever see the speaker’s father through the speaker’s point of view, but it’s not too hard to imagine what the old man's life is like. "Those Winter Sundays" tells us that he wakes up early, works hard, and provides for his family. Seriously, he works (in and outside of the home) seven days a week for his family. If that isn’t sacrifice, well, we don’t know what sacrifice is. This dude could use an all-expenses-paid week in Tahiti, if you ask us.
The speaker’s father has sacrificed everything—including his emotional relationship with his kid—to provide the basic tools of survival for his family.
The speaker’s father is just doing what any dad would do by waking up early to light the fires in the house. Nothing special about this guy.
Remember the good old days when you were young? When someone lit the fires in your home so you didn’t have to? When someone polished your shoes? When someone paid the bills and cared for you? The speaker in “Those Winter Sundays” is remembering those good old days, though they didn’t seem so good at the time. But that's only because he was young and ignorant. Once he's grown up a bit, and has a few years behind him, he's able to recognize his father's love.
“Those Winter Sundays” suggests that no children can comprehend their parents’ love for them. They're too busy being resentful.
“Those Winter Sundays” suggests that becoming an adult means understanding your parents’ motivations and experiences.