Sweet Sundays

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When I was young, Sunday was a family day. First and foremost, it was a day to dress up and go to church. My sisters and I always wore dresses, nice shoes, and hats or chapel veils on our heads. The boys wore nice slacks and freshly ironed shirts while my father wore a suit and tie.

On Sundays, we stayed in our dress clothes all day long. This practice was inadvertently responsible for my ruining my First Communion dress. My mother had sewn a white eyelet dress for the occasion. After I made my First Holy Communion, my practical mother decided to dye the dress green so that I could wear it more often. One Sunday I was sliding down a slide in my green dress when the skirt got caught and ripped horribly.

We had our biggest meal mid-afternoon on Sundays. It was usually something like a beef or pork roast. Afterwards, we would often visit one of my grandmothers. Grandma I. lived in the upper apartment of a two-flat. The vestibule always smelled like home cooking, and in the summer the Cubs game was always on TV. Grandma C. lived in a little bungalow with a large garden filled with Grandpa’s tomato vines. My Italian Grandma C. loved to feed us, and Grandpa C. would exhort us, “Mangia, mangia” from his place at the head of the table.

In the good old days of my youth, most businesses were closed. There was nothing much to do except play outside, read, visit family, or go for a drive. My dad loved to take us on these Sunday drives. We might visit the arboretum or a park called Cantigny, which was filled with World War I relics. Sometimes we would drive into Chicago and run around Buckingham Fountain, an ornate structure on the lakefront.

Sunday evenings meant suppers, a more casual, snack-like meal than our usual dinners. Being a picky eater, I found this simpler fare much more to my liking. Then our whole family would gather around the TV set and watch The Lawrence Welk Show or The Wonderful World of Disney. Sometimes my mom would make popcorn. I especially loved Jiffy Pop because you could watch the flat aluminum package swell up on the stove and hear the magical kernels popping.

Sundays nowadays are just as busy as every other day of the week. My kids have sports, my husband often has work calls or emails to make, and most stores are open so that I find myself fighting the crowds at our local supermarket. The days of visiting grandparents and aimlessly driving around are long gone.

I miss the peace of those Sundays. Maybe it’s time to bring backs those days of sweet nothings.

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