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Where's Our Day Of Rest?

by Ron Kitson

If Wednesday is "Humpday" then perhaps we should call Monday "Breakday" since for many, going back to work after a hectic weekend of yard work, housework, shopping, traveling, partying or sports, means a chance to rest up.

You always hope you don't buy a car that was made on a Friday. Well, I don't think I'd want one that was made on a Monday either.

Saturday (Lat. Saturnus) is the seventh or last day of the week. The day set apart in the fourth commandment to be observed as a day of rest. Saturday, the Sabbath (Heb. Shabath; to rest from labor), in our family circles became the first day of the weekend and a day to get things done you couldn't do during the week.

Back on the farm near Little Britain, Saturday meant everyone taking a bath in that little wash tub (one at a time of course), getting dressed up nice and going to the town of Lindsay about 9 miles away. It was the weekly shopping trip for items not available in the village and a chance to window-shop, bump into friends and watch the nighthawks dive.

However, being of Christian faith as was just about everyone in the area, our Sabbath was Sunday, the first day of the week but treated as the seventh.

For us and indeed most people we knew, Sunday was truly a day of rest. Certain farm chores still had to be taken care of. Those atheistic roosters never took a day off so eggs had to be gathered. Cows had to be milked, livestock had to be fed, etc., but otherwise it was a day set aside for going to church and for the most part, relaxing, visiting relatives and resting up for the work week ahead.

There was no work done on Sunday that could be put off until Monday and no sports. We didn't play ball or hockey on Sunday and there was no organized sports in the area. For most, Sunday was a day of well earned rest.

Regardless of individual religious leanings, we could all benefit greatly from one day of rest and relaxation per week and it would be convenient if we could all do it on the same day. Since for most people, Monday is the beginning of the work week, Sunday would seem like the ideal day to rest up.

It is quite relaxing to have friends over on a Sunday afternoon, sit out on the deck or patio with a glass of iced tea (or whatever) and just chat. The problem is that as soon as you get comfortable and start enjoying the tranquility, a neighbor will start up his lawnmower only to follow up with a gas powered string trimmer and then the Blower-Vac.

Then, just as sure as your grass and toenails keep growing, as soon as they get finished grooming their lawn, someone else in the neighborhood will start. Why can't they do that on Saturday? Some are retired yet still wait until Sunday to cut the grass.

As I recall, Sundays in the town of Bowmanville back in the late 40s were pretty quiet. Stores were all closed albeit a drugstore and there were no sports activities. Everyone except the pastors of the local houses of worship and a pharmacist in that drugstore had the day off.

For a while I was employed Sunday mornings to pump the organ at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church for which I was paid 50 cents. My cousin Jack tells me I was well paid since he had, a few years earlier, sat on that same stool behind that same curtain beside the organ and pumped for a quarter. Inflation I guess.

Sometimes I would sneak a comic book in under my shirt but my father who sang in the choir, heard the pages rattle and somehow knew I wasn't reading the "Holy Scriptures."

Sometimes there'd be a "Midnight Dance" with the music beginning at the bewitching hour but only if Monday was a secular holiday. These dances, normally in a pavilion, catered to teens and young adults and no alcoholic beverages were allowed. (The key word being "allowed")

Everyone dressed up nice in hopes of impressing the opposite gender. The guys with shirt, tie and jacket, a fresh haircut and "A little dab'll do ya." The girls wore nice dresses. I don't recall ever seeing anyone at a dance in blue jeans and sneakers.

Saturday night dances on the other hand had to shut down at midnight so the most popular regular dance night was on Friday, the only night you could go early, stay late and sleep in the next morning.

We had laws that kept Sunday that way but as time went on, they started to interpret them differently and now Sundays are full of exciting sports, auto races, noisy yard machines and very heavy traffic on the streets and highways. Sundays it seems, are no longer considered a day of rest.

I know some who go to Mass on Saturday to free up Sunday for something a little more exciting or so they can sleep in following a Saturday night bash. Even on very special holidays (derived from Holy Days) when everyone possible should have the day off to be with family, the stores and shopping malls are open and big sporting events are scheduled. Why can't they just shut down for the day and let their employees and players spend the day with their families?

The same laws that once kept Sundays pretty quiet, now permit us to treat it like any other day and I'm not real sure how that happened.

On the other hand, the same laws that prevented the use of obscene language in the movies along with some pretty rough language on radio and TV, are now interpreted to mean it's OK and I'm not sure how that happened either.

Who could argue against one day out of seven filled with peace, quiet and relaxation to just unwind and recharge the biological batteries. If we could give just about everyone the day off on Sunday, we'd no doubt be healthier, and better prepared both mentally and physically to charge into the new work week.

Coincidentally, I wrote this article on a Sunday but for me, writing is not work. It is very relaxing and much like talking to friends.

Have a nice day.

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