Sunday’s (step)child

Telluride Daily Planet, Friday, June 5, 2020

 

We all have our relationships with the seventh day of the week. And like so many things, how we did it as children probably forged how we do it (or don’t do it) today.

Maybe you grew up staying in your polka-dot pajamas until noon on Sunday, or ate French toast or bacon, or stayed in bed reading, or had to be up and dressed for church. Maybe you went fishing with your dad or made cookies with your mom; or maybe every Sunday you just tried to figure out why you couldn’t have one day of peace at home where nobody argued or bossed others around and where chores would magically go away.

In my family, it was a mixed bag. My mother, raised Catholic, went to church some but not all of the time and would take some but not all of the kids some but not all of the time. Since I was the youngest, I went to services with her the most, went to Sunday school, had First Communion, and Confirmation, and then went to a Catholic high school. My dad stayed home, because even though he believed in the value of the church’s moral teachings, he wasn’t a believer and wouldn’t go so far as to posture as one. He’d usually use Sunday mornings to tinker in the workroom or prune a tree or walk the dog. At night we’d watch the “Wonderful World of Disney” and “Mission: Impossible.” #allwasnotlost

I don’t recall ever staying in my pajamas on Sunday mornings like so many of my friends did. There was, I could sense, a vague shift from the internal rules governing the other days of the week, but it wasn’t perfectly clear to me how that all worked. Certainly, it was not the relief of an all-rules-are-off sort of Sunday fairyland, or even a sense of spaciousness, like a puffy white slow-moving cloud in the Seattle sky of the week. I do remember Reuben sandwiches on Sundays as a teen, which stand out as highlights, I think mainly because of the deliciousness of the sauerkraut in a diet low on sour foods.

How did this play out as an adult, and why is it important? Well, for me, as I look back over my working life here, and nearly 35 years spent in some aspect of customer service, it’s clear I worked Sundays at least 30 of those years. Of course, this is a given in a resort town: A weekend day is required unless you are seated at the top of management, and often even that isn’t enough. But never having been truly faithful to Sundays myself, it already felt like an appropriate thing for me to do, a clever way to take the pressure off and make a Sunday into a Monday, which would also eliminate the whole problem of Mondays. Bam.

What eventually happens when you work on Sundays is that you start looking at the way other people having their vacation or holiday or summer Sundays are doing it. The clients, the customers, the passerby, the people eating brunch-y things at the coffee shop across the street. Eventually, you start thinking to yourself, “Hmm, should I be working all these Sundays, even while my family is at home, having them?” Then you start thinking of your family and what they’re doing. One thing you do know, if you’re me; you know very well they’re not wearing their pajamas around the house late in the morning because some things take generations to change.

Finally, you might feel that somehow you just have to be done with working on Sundays. You’ll see it as inappropriate on some very fundamental level, for whatever reason, and it will be a great relief when you figure that one out, and you’ll never want to do it again. Then, when the six-letter word Sunday does pop into your mind randomly, it will be a sparkly GIF, twinkling until the letters fade. Even though you’ll be aware of not having ever kept the Sabbath well, and won’t pretend you were ever a person who wore pajamas late into the morning, you’ll settle into it, making room for that dirigible white cloud should it decide sweetly to barge its way in.

Then one fine day you’ll discover a Sunday workaround that will set you up for the rest of this lifetime: That it’s almost as delicious to put your pajamas on early on a Sunday — like 6 p.m. — as it is to take them off late.

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