When Sundays were special

Jane Clark, Writers Bloc
Before the era of shopping malls and stores that are open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, there was a time when Sundays were for relaxing and enjoying being with family. Let me take you back to the days when Sundays were a welcome rest from work and responsibility.
Everyone in my family got dressed up and went to church or Sunday school, just like most folks in our small country town of Curby, Indiana. After church our entire family of nine sat around our big kitchen table to enjoy a home-cooked meal. We usually had fried chicken, gravy, mashed potatoes and a selection of vegetables grown in our garden. The meal was topped off with one of my mom’s delicious coconut cream pies or a cake that she baked from scratch, not from a box. There were no buffets to entice us to leave the comforts of home.
On many occasions after church we visited one of our grandparents or another close relative. Invitations weren’t needed, and few people had telephones so it wasn’t possible to call in advance. Any guest that arrived around mealtime was invited to dinner. If there wasn’t enough seating at the table, an old style wooden ironing board placed across two chairs would provide space for at least four kids. Whenever we visited anyone, my mom never arrived empty-handed. She always brought along a pie or cake as a contribution to the meal. All stores were closed on Sunday which required careful planning to insure that you had everything needed for Sunday dinner. If you forgot something, you either improvised or did without.
My dad didn’t work on Sundays, unless it was to wash and wax the family car or tend to some other minor duty at home. When I was around five years old, I used to say that Sunday was a “lazy day.”
In the summertime, Sunday pastimes for kids included playing lawn games, going swimming at the nearby creek, or sitting on the front porch talking with family or friends. A visit from one of my aunts or uncles from the city was always greatly anticipated. One special treat usually reserved for when we had company was making homemade ice cream with a manual ice cream freezer. Every kid wanted to take his or her turn cranking the handle. You knew when the ice cream was done because the handle became too hard to turn.
On lazy Sunday afternoons the men often played a game of horseshoe, listened to a baseball game on the radio, or talked politics. The women shared recipes, taught a new sewing skill, and frequently shared the latest gossip. Any babies in the family were the center of attention. It was a time when we enjoyed visiting with our grandparents, aunts, uncles, and a large number of cousins. We formed bonds that have lasted through many decades.
One pastime the whole family enjoyed was going for a Sunday drive. Filling stations were closed on Sundays back then, so the gas tank had to be filled on Saturday. The price of gas was around thirty cents a gallon. Since there were no stores open, the usual destinations included a park or other public site, visiting a relative, or just enjoying the scenery. It was especially exciting when we went to a nearby city or town to visit a relative. I remember the first time I went across the bridge to Louisville, Kentucky. I gazed in awe at the steel girders overhead and the wide Ohio River below.
Sundays are so different now. While membership is dwindling in many small churches, newer mega-churches boast congregations in the thousands with television screens and contemporary music. Shopping malls are packed, and all-you-can eat buffets have become popular places to have Sunday dinner.
Pastimes now include playing golf, attending huge sporting events or concerts, or going to the movie theater with as many as ten selections. If families do get together for a meal, the kids are often texting a friend or have their eyes glued to an I-Pad, Kindle, or some other electronic device.
Families seem to rarely visit relatives or friends unless it is by e-mail or on Facebook. With family members going to so many different events, it has become necessary to keep in contact by cell phone or texting.
I’m not saying that the modern, fast-paced computer age is wrong. I’m sure that kids of today will someday look back on their youth and fondly remember many of the things they did while growing up. But I still miss the era when I was young—when Sundays were a time to slow down and reconnect with family—a time when Sundays were special.
Jane Clark is Co-Director of Writers Bloc and has been a member of the group since 2005. She is a retired advertising sales representative who enjoys writing memoirs, essays, poetry and fiction. Her work has appeared in several regional and national publications. Her first novel True Allegiance is available on Amazon.com.


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