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Someone stole Sunday

Published October 09. 2010 09:00AM

There was a time when the very mention of Sunday liquor sales would release a firestorm of controversy.

Not any more.

Commissioners in my Florida county were asked to vote to extend the hours of Sunday liquor sales. There has been no strong opposition to the proposed change.

No wonder.

When we weren't looking, someone stole Sunday. And we can never get it back.

A long, long time ago, dating back to the Colonial era, Blue Laws were enacted to restrict shopping of any kind on Sunday.

The thinking was that Sunday should be preserved as a day for God and family.

These Blue Laws, as they were called, stayed with us for decades, influencing our lifestyles in major ways.

Stores weren't open on Sunday.

There was no such thing as Supermarket shopping on Sunday.

Athletic events of any kind weren't scheduled.

Community events were restricted before noon on Sunday so it wouldn't interfere with church.

Remember those days when families didn't have to rush off in different directions on Sundays?

Remember when we looked forward to the relaxed pace of Sundays?

The beginning of the end came when stores started opening on Sunday. At first, it was just the major stores but eventually other stores had to follow suit or risk losing business.

What we didn't realize back then was that the change wasn't about commerce. It was about changing lifestyles.

Our lifestyles changed significantly when we were "allowed" to shop on Sunday. Something sacred was stolen from us back then but we didn't know it.

I remember vowing not to shop on Sunday. I figured if I got by for decades without food shopping on Sunday, there was no reason to change.

When I was growing up, Sundays meant going to church then walking home as the tantalizing smells of Sunday dinner wafted from homes.

It meant coming home to a Sunday feast because families always had their best meal of the week.

Sundays meant sprawling with the Sunday newspaper that was so big it took a long time to read.

That was OK because we had the precious commodity called time.

The day was ours to enjoy.

There was no work. No deadlines. No "to do" list.

In the leisureliness of Sunday, we could visit with family we didn't get to see during the week. We could share tales and share lives, relishing in the joys of an extended family.

Or, we could just sit on the porch and dream a little, rocking slowly back and forth while we savored the slowness of the day.

I vowed to always give my family the gift of the same kind of Sundays I had. We dressed up (hey, remember that?) in hats and our best clothes for church. Then I cooked a special meal.

We never ate and ran on Sunday. Spending time at the table conversing was what it was about. We told stories, we teased, we laughed. In short, we enjoyed our time together.

But I watched it all change when Sunday became just another day of the week.

Before I knew it, Sunday became another day of pressures instead of a day of pleasures.

When I broke down and started doing my supermarket shopping on Sunday, I lost more than I gained.

Like most women who worked five days a week, I had only two days to shop, clean and do the multitude of chores and errands life demanded.

I couldn't afford to sit still, I told myself, not even on Sunday. There was too much to do. So, after church on Sunday, I threw clothes in the washer and caught up on the most pressing things that had to be done.

Sunday became just another day of the week.

The Blue Laws were lifted, one by one, because courts ruled these laws were propagated by religious groups for religious purposes. Therefore, they were unconstitutional.

Back then, many thought they were gaining time and opportunity when they could shop on Sunday.

Few realized they were losing the specialness of the day. And I bet few anticipated how life would change.

When my daughter told me her kids have tennis competition as well as Little League games on Sundays, I said it was a mistake to jam up Sunday like the other days of the week.

"What would you have me do - bar them from sports?" she retorted. "If they want to be part of a team, they have to play on Sunday."

When I talked with her this week, she said she was praying for rain in New Jersey on Sunday. Her schedule with the kids is just too hectic.

Sophie has soccer, Cameron has a ballgame and Grayson has band practice all with over lapping times in different directions. All three also have Sunday tennis matches.

If it rains, most of the activities will be canceled and they can have a special day, Andrea says.

Her idea of a special day? "Staying home and playing games together instead of rushing around to every activity," she says.

I wonder if we know what we lost when we lost Sunday as a day of church, family and leisure.

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