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Sunday - Fun Day?

The ironing board comes out. Perhaps half-heartedly, dress clothes and shoes get dragged out of closets. Instead of donning a baseball cap, the boys comb their hair. Replacing a quick ponytail, the girls brush and style their hair with a simple barrette or a few curls. Family dress-up plays out at 8 AM, and everyone in the car before 9.

Boys in sunday clothes
Sunday Best!

I'm talking about an average Sunday morning as I was growing up.

The warm, excited vigor everyone had the morning before seems to have morphed somehow into a more muted tone. It's not exactly somber, but lower energy and less pizzazz. Everyone seems to move a little slower. The TV is off; no cartoons setting the tone as with the previous day.

Having been raised in a fairly religious household, this was my typical “Sabbath Day” modus operandi, a rinse-and-repeat process we did every week for most of my young life. Don’t get me wrong, these were not unpleasant mornings for us. In fact, I can look back fondly and say they were generally happy days, even if they weren’t outwardly joyous. That said, there were also those Sunday mornings where the ‘church’ part of it felt to me as much like a chore as a day to look forward to, at least some of the time. I even remember a few of my early teen years where I was "motivated" by a combination of scolding, bribes, begging, guilting, etc. in order to run a brush through my hair and be in the car early enough so as to not make the family wait and miss our chance to sit in the front pew in which my father insisted us sitting.

A church steeple
Church, Here We Come!

I decided, perhaps back then, that my household would be different. I thought: IF I made my family go to church, and IF my kids wanted to go, and IF I could get my spouse on board, I’d ensure that Sabbath mornings were just as happy and energetic as other weekend mornings.

By those standards, in best-laid-plans fashion, that goal has perhaps been a flop. Now that I have a few more miles on my tires, I've come to realize that not all of the solemnity was necessarily bad. It’s okay that we are a bit more contemplative and thoughtful on days of worship, no matter how those might manifest themselves for you and your family. In my neck of the woods, generally speaking, there are less lawnmowers and leaf blowers going on a Sabbath morning. Those without religious beliefs tend to respect neighbors and a community who are. I appreciate less traffic. Many businesses are closed. Banks and government offices are not open. Many local stores are closed, while national chain stores often have shorter hours. Many communities treat this day of the week differently for cultural and social reasons.

The culture of your household is up to you. And while it’s appropriate that the morning feel a little different, I believe there is a delicate balance between allowing for an introspective mood vs. the happy-go-lucky mode of other mornings.

None of us who worship at church meetings want them to feel like a negative ‘task’ that requires herculean effort. Even if our family members never don the “Wow I'm lucky to have this opportunity!” type of attitude with worship, we may still hope for a happy medium wherein they recognize it is surrendering some of their time and focus in exchange for an uplifting and edifying experience. Or so a mom can hope and dream, right?

I am aiming for that happy medium by providing routine. I still make a breakfast, just not the catch-as-catch-can, 2-3 hour party-atmosphere pancake and waffles extravaganza that marks most of our Saturday mornings. Instead, I love for breakfast to be formal enough that we can sit at the table together, clasp hands and bless the food (or have a moment of reflection, to each family their own). During the day, we allow the TV to be on, but limit programming to certain types…yes, cartoons are allowed, if they are religious or family-oriented, but we are also OK with Sunday Morning news, the Weather Channel, and even history programming like biographies. I also keep the volume in ‘mellow’ mode.

A couple of other tricks I have found useful:

  • I love to have fresh flowers on the counter or on the table, especially in yellows or pinks to help brighten the room and the mood:

  • I enjoy having the windows open if weather permits to let in sunlight and fresh air

  • I love to have music playing instead of the TV, and it doesn’t have to be choir music. A soft-rock (hand-picked) playlist on Spotify or Apple Music can go a long way to set the tone

  • I like to get dressed first, not last, to help set an example and mark the morning as 'different'. When they get up, they might find me with an apron on over my dress and some final hair and light makeup yet to be done

  • The days before, I encourage family to ready shoes and outfits so there isn’t a laundry scramble the morning of.

The objective here is to foster a positive, purposely calmed and open atmosphere, leaving space for each person to find their own version of peace, whether that is via meditation and prayer, reading, writing or even watching TV. Where there are moments to be together as a family unit, I aim to provide for that, but also recognize that for some people, quiet introspection is of greater importance than group sharing.

Woman's Hair Barrett
Sunday Hair

Somewhere, there’s a balance between people feeling ‘forced’ into spiritual mode on the Sabbath vs. finding their own way there. For some, it might never quite come as easily as you’d like it to, but at some point we all realize that isn’t our job. That’s their path, their decisions, their innate sense of self and their journey (you know, the one that never ends). As a mom and head of household, our role is to set the stage and allow for their journey to be unencumbered that day either by lists of chores to do or forced attitudes.

Finally, one thing that’s helped me find peace is allowing for my own spiritual needs. Yes, I hope (and pray!) that my family members each develop a relationship with a higher power, keeping in mind that it is their path. I cannot take the voyage for them. If I can provide an environment that even slightly nudges them toward finding inner peace, then my only Sunday ‘chore’ is done.

Good luck…and God Bless.

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