Misunderstood One can say that Robert Hayden had a traumatic childhood. His mother abandoned him to move to New York. And he was adopted by his neighbors. "Those Winter Sundays" is a poem about a cold past and a present reverence for his father, elements brought together by the phrase "winter Sundays". It is a poem about a man remembering his father. The son doubted the fact that his father loved him when he was a boy.
On first reading the poem, one can tell that the father labored hard to provide for his family. Even on "winter Sundays", he would rise early, just to make a fire to keep the house warm. In spite of all his efforts, "no one ever thanked him"; he was never appreciated.
On closer look, one can see it is not just a poem about a family trying to cope, but it is a poem about a very delicate relationship between father and son.
The young boy feels that his father does not love him, as he never shows his love openly. The father is a man of principal; he does not feel it necessary to tell his son how he feels in obvious ways. But one can see, in all the little things he does, that he does care about his son. Being young the son does not pick up on the subtle expressions of love that his father extends towards him. Since, he thought he received no love, he did not reciprocate it. He felt that if his father did love him, he would shot it in more obvious ways. Ways that "he" would understand.
As the young boy grows up, he comes to realize these subtle expressions of love. Maybe he realizes this after becoming a father himself.