Sunday still sacred?
June 1, 2012
By Jill Rothenbueler Maher
On a recent Sunday morning, our daughter asked, “Can we have a pajama day, Mom?” Pajama days involve hanging around the house without school, work, or even a grocery store trip.
My immediate reply was, “No, honey, we have to go to church today.” While we don’t view church as mandatory, that day the Sunday school teachers wanted as many kids as possible to take part in thanking their volunteers.
But I reconsidered, agreed to the pajama day proposal, and we all enjoyed a morning free of scheduled activities.
We did nothing in particular, which befits a pajama day. But we did get the chance to talk about some things that were rattling around in our daughter’s four-and-a-half-year-old mind like “What happens in a tornado?” and that her friend sometimes says she doesn’t want to be friends anymore.
After lunch, we ventured out to meet my parents (sans PJs) at a school art fair.
That morning was remarkable and memorable for the good chunk of hours that we enjoyed with few outbursts, and our daughter even made her characteristic happiness display: spontaneous singing. Our time together was as much fun as I always expect “big days” to be at the zoo or the bounce house. I unconsciously establish high expectations, but those outings often end on a sour note or involve too much begging for extras and leave me feeling unfulfilled.
The PJ day experience caused me to reflect on the tradition of honoring the Sabbath, the day of rest.
Our society, especially in the predominantly Catholic Milwaukee areas, once viewed Sunday mornings to be reserved strictly for family time and religious worship. While families were obligated to dress up and make it to the pews on time, schedules were otherwise free, except that after church, it was common to buy ham and rolls for a quick lunch that gave mothers a break from cooking. In my own family, my father often worked on Sundays but the rest of the Milwaukee Sunday stereotype held true.
Today, when stores like Target make their Sunday store and pharmacy hours nearly the same as the rest of the week, the sacred Sunday morning zone is eroded. Sundays were remarkably different when retail stores were closed in many of the state’s communities and—gasp—alcohol sales were prohibited throughout Wisconsin.
Children’s birthday parties are usually on Saturday, but friends said they have received invitations for Sunday morning parties. At work, friends have opined that older kids’ club sports, which hold tournaments beginning at 8am, totally violate the “sanctuary” tradition of Sunday morning. Organizations such as Milwaukee Recreation still honor the “day of rest” tradition and do not offer courses like swim lessons on Sundays, but our neighborhood has casual but pre-planned soccer in the park.
I have a lot of thoughts about a regular reflective block of time, but I’m not sure how to make it happen. In our house, we can’t make every Sunday a pajama day, but a constant “get up and go” pattern isn’t ideal, either. The Sunday morning sacred zone is a tradition worth keeping.
The author is a freelance writer and mother of one. Reach her with comments or suggestions at email@example.com.
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