Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Reminiscent of Sunday Times 1979

1979 - Windy, age 10. On families that attend church.

I never met an early Sunday morning that I didn’t dread. The entire family was always acting cranky to one another with all the rushing around the house and getting all dressed up for God as if He doesn’t already know what we all look like in our birthday suits. My mother was busy selecting 4 sets of clothes, including my father's. He'd dress himself, but then she'd tell him he did it wrong - right down to a mismatched belt and shoes. I found this humorous. Then she had to iron several items and prep dinner for Sunday afternoon. Whether it was a roast in the crock pot or one in the pressure cooker was directly related to the amount of time my mom was working with that morning. I found the latter fascinating and I enjoyed listening to its rhythm ...something very specific about the sound of its fast hiss, hiss, hiss as it fired its steam up into the kitchen air with scents of promises of what was to come this afternoon.

My mother would interrupt her own getting ready for church, come down into the kitchen and  announce to me, “Let me do something with that hair,” as if it was greasy or flying all over the place. I was even less thrilled at the prospect of being on the receiving end of getting prepped for Sunday School hair. But, my mom was a fan of curls and not strings, so I stood in front of the kitchen stove and waited for my beauty work.

I don’t know what happened to the curler set where 3 different sized rollers securely sat on slightly larger or smaller heated metal poles, and then the whole thing closed nicely in some sort of plastic case while everything heated up.  That was long gone, but somehow the spiky curlers remained. Those suckers were boiled in hot water against their will and the manufacturer's warranty, and then rolled into my hair against mine.  My mother jammed each one up against my face and the back of my neck  and snapped them securely. I would move my head around as they were cooling and it would look, feel, and sound like I had a half dozen hard boiled eggs all trapped in my hair.  When they were cooled off enough, I was allowed to remove them myself and then my mom would comb it just right. I didn't need to look in the mirror to know that I looked like a blonde mushroom, but at least my mother no longer thought I resembled a Muppet.

Meanwhile, my dad was always on the verge of being mad that we were going to be late for Sunday School, but he had only himself to get ready and his black shoes to shine. I can still smell the tangy sharpness of the shoe polish and see him propping his feet up one at a time on his wooden shoe shining kit.  A white rag turned grey with black smudges would shuffle smoothly and quickly back and forth when he shined the tops. Once he decided he looked spiffy, he was usually the first one to be ready and he would threaten to walk to church, which wasn’t a big deal when we lived less than a mile away. He followed through on this often.  Sometimes my sister and I were ready early and we'd walk with him. But, when we moved 12 miles away, his threat became ridiculous and especially so the few times that he actually did start walking.  By this point, my mom was madder than a wet hen because she had too much to do to get everybody ready and she didn’t need his rooster beak pecking at her neck.  So off my father would go and I didn’t know if we’d ever see him again or not, but I anxiously kept a close eye out of the car windows for him as my little teary eyes fought the blur to discover him on the sides of the roads, parking lots, fast food places, and various business as we drove on by. I'd look out the front windows, the sides windows and the rear windows just in case we missed him. I remember frantically asking, "Are we going to pick up Dad? Are we going to find him?" I learned that my mother wasn't necessarily looking.

I remember her stopping the car along the way to pick my father up beside the highway. I also recall  her blowing right by him at 45 miles an hour and not picking him up at all. Even as a ten-year-old, I knew this was counter-intuitive. We were going to worship God and learn how to apply the bible to our lives, but my mom and dad are fighting or ignoring one another on the way there? God really does miracles because my dad somehow showed up at church anyhow. I realized our neighbors spotted him on their way to the same church and must have picked him up. What in the world kind of explanation did my father give to them as to why he was walking to church from so far away? He would have missed the entire services by the time he showed up however many hours later with blisters on his heals from his thin nylon dress socks and shoes had they not picked him up in their car. Then we all had to stand next to one another in the pews like one big happy family that had dysfunctionally survived the morning and arrived to sit and stand and sing happy songs at the top of our lungs together.  I would peer up my father who always sang this way no matter what.  Then I would steal a glance at my mother who was still very perturbed, but trying to hide it and herself behind her ruffled feathers. I didn't yet know about statistics, but I knew there was a good chance that at some point in the service we would all be asked to join hands.  This wasn’t a problem if I was sitting in between my folks because I was their safe connection.  Otherwise, I worried that they wouldn’t join hands and they would get a divorce. This made the communion cracker sit dryly in my throat. One swipe of the tongue's worth of grape juice in those tiny glasses wasn't going to wash down anything other than one sin at a time.

Then there was the whole “Did you read your Bible today?” thing that happened on any day of the week other than Sundays because, of course, that was taken care of when we were at church. “Are you reading your bible every day?” mostly by my father.  Or when my mother thought I was acting up, “Have you been reading your Bible?  I notice a difference in you.” That wasn’t meant in a positive light.  Really?  I was like 11.  I wanted to ask her plenty of times if she read hers and if so I wanted to know which verses to cross out  because they apparently weren’t working because I thought she was quite irritable a time or ten.  However, I obviously valued my hair even in naivete that it was curled to resemble the head of a man's penis, and I didn't want it yanked out or my mouth slapped, so I didn’t say such a thing.  Guiltily, but not sure exactly why, just being born into sin, I guessed, I would trudge up the orange carpeted stairs to my Holly Hobby bedroom and locate the shortest Psalm in the bible I could find. I might as well see what old David was up to, which was mostly singing and dancing, killing a giant, playing the harp, watching a naked lady bathe, and having her husband killed in battle so he could marry her himself.  How he was considered “A man after God’s own heart,” while I never stole a cookie let alone anyone’s husband or wife, but was still a sinner, I had no idea.  I was, however, grateful that I was born after the New Testament times and not during the Old Testament times or as comedian Kathleen Madigan calls it, “The Bad Bible.” 

Speaking of the Old Testament being the scarier part of the bible because God was often so angry, I did not like the story of Lot’s wife.  I never viewed a salt shaker the same way again and I am afraid to buy salt in bulk, not that I need to, but I don’t want a pillar of any kind in my house.  God turned the woman into salt!  Why salt?  Why not just strike her dead?   Were their children with them?  Bet they never salted a dog gone thing in their lives again after that either.  I am sure their blood pressure was high as adults, but I guarantee you it was from seeing their mother turn into a pillar of salt and not from eating salt themselves ever again. 

My father would be considered a man that knows how to pray, but he would never say or think that about himself.  But, he had this certain boldness about him that puzzled me.  We’d just be sitting around doing whatever and he’d get up from his chair and say, “Praise the Living God!”  As a child, this is just startling and confusing.  I’m just sitting here eating my HoneyComb cereal,  we already prayed for our meal, what is he talking about and why?  We learned that the bible says even the rocks will cry out and worship God if we didn’t or something like that. I never looked at a nice sized rock the same way again and I often wondered if one was going to start talking to me and what kind of voice it would have? A man's? A woman's? The devil's? Kermit the frog's? Was I going to walk by a big boulder one day and have it shout at me, “Praise the Lord!” all of a sudden and then roll over on me if I didn’t join in?  No wonder why I was near paranoid and afraid of things that non-church-going children probably weren't.

My father would go door to door witnessing and often took me or my sister with him.  I didn’t like it.  I didn’t trust the dogs.  I certainly didn’t trust the people opening their doors.  If an older lady answered the door with a lit cigarette, I knew she was going to invite us in.  I was allergic to her dog and her smoke. First, I'd try not to look at the spot common to all elderly lifetime smokers -- that dried out wrinkled space above her lips but below her nose. I’d watch that cigarette teeter around between her lips, travel east and west as she still somehow managed to talk while smoking it, hands free, smoke rising right back up into her eyes as she squinted to keep it out. The better the person was at mouth mashing that cigarette, the more I knew she needed Jesus in her heart to help her stop that smoking.  

In Sunday School, we were taught how the bible characters lived, mostly right like Moses with his dusty walking in the desert sandals trying to tell God's people what to do, but they wouldn't listen and roamed around for 40 years because of it. Then there were tortured souls like King Saul, sacrificial fellas like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace where a figure with God’s image  appeared just in time to lower the heat several hundred degrees. 

Speaking of hot ovens, regardless of what happened before church or during church service, the absolute best part of Sunday for me was not long off. My father never threatened to walk back home, somehow God fixed everything between us all, so we road mostly in peace and we were hungry. I will forever remember my parents parking our car in our driveway and as my sister and I walked around the sidewalk toward our front door, we could smell the roast from 15 feet away! Returning home to the smell of rump roast was heavenly! At last, the morning was over and hello Sunday afternoon! Now, please pass the mashed potatoes, but hold the salt.

What were/are Sundays like at your house?




  1. Hi Windy, wow, what a brilliant, reflective post. What memories! Our Sunday's were nothing like ths, apart from the Sunday roast, which would usually be at dinner time rather than lunch. We were'nt brought up going to church. All the airs and graces to put on a show for the others in the congregation.


    1. Hi, Roz! Thank you. This was a fun one to write. Sundays were roast days at your house, too. Yay! "Airs and graces"....laughing. I could see why that could be the case. We had a less formal kind of congregation because it was a charismatic church and most people seemed genuine. I just didn't know if my family was! LOL Hugs, Windy

  2. LMAO! Well that is some picture you painted. No doubt extremely anxiety inducing as a child to live through, but highly entertaining to read about after you survived it.

    Um so as you know, I grew up Catholic. Double whammy Catholic, my Mom is French Canadian and my Dad was raised by an Irish Catholic mother and a 'converted' Catholic father <- the WORST...LOL. But no aside from EXTREME boredom at church I don't have any negative memories surrounding our weekly outing. I used to go and sit with our neighbours in their pew. My Mom chose the 8:30 mass as it was shorter- ( but also more boring as there was no music).

    We did have to attend Mass, EVERY. FREAKIN. DAY. during Lent. Soooo much fun arriving for Mass at 7:45 am-not. We were allowed to wear whatever to church provided, it wasn't jeans, or shorts and was clean. BTW I think my Mom's husband now wears ( or did before this pandemic stopped them from church) walking shorts to Mass.

    Our house revolved around the Church. We all went to Catholic school. My Mom was a member of the CWL, my Dad the accountant for the Church. Family friends were nuns, brothers, and priests, so we saw them outside of their robes drinking a beer *shocking...they are HUMAN! LOL*.

    My Mom is also Queen organized, so her outfit on Sunday was ready after she washed it. My Dad's closet was full of ironed clothes and clean shoes. She never dressed him, but he'd ask if things looked okay because he was colour blind. Mass may be grueling for a child but I know I should be grateful it was ONLY an hour. After which we'd have coffee with the neighbours and I could buy penny candy. But all in all the Sunday religious aspect was over by 10 am...onto some sort of sport ( my Mom used to say " If they threw sh*t at the wall and kept score your Dad would watch it" she isn't a swearer LOL) and a big dinner, which was mostly prepped the day before.

    All in all I am grateful for those memories. My parents, while certainly NOT perfect lived the good aspects of their religion, ( abandoned the judgemental ones for the most part- buffet Catholics) so we watched them to learn. No Bible studies for us- though there was for them! Stations of the Cross? Blech! lol


    1. Hi, Willie! Glad you got a couple of laughs out of this one. I did, too, just remembering some of this silly stuff the way an 10 year old would.

      Oh, yes, you were Catholic big time. I went to 1 Catholic wedding as a kid and it was BORING and also no air conditioning and that was worse. lol Glad you didn't have negative experiences though. I had lots of positive ones, but that wasn't the focus of actual Sunday mornings. lol

      Oh boy, every day..... I thought 3 times a week every week was bad. Can't imagine every day that early in the morning to boot! GAH!

      Our whole lives were church based as well for the most part, too. We were taught that Catholics weren't Christians because of the drinking thing..... not the case anymore, thank God.

      I love hearing about your Sundays... the penny candy! Aww! And the big dinner....and I love your mom's quote about shit and sports. hahahaha

      Thanks for sharing your childhood Sundays, Willie! Hugs, Windy

  3. Oh gosh Windy, Awesome!

    My Sundays were a lot like yours....The absolute run trying to get to church on time, early even since 3/4 kids were in the choir. No roast for dinner though and blissfully mom almost never went to church with us. By the time I was 13 that stopped as I worked 6 days a week all through highschool. And honestly, had enough of my parents fighting during the week so Sunday was almost restful without my mom.

    Best story was from when we were very young...Sunday school had taught us that day that "everything green was alive". One of my brothers at dinner was complaining about the brussel sprouts my mom had made (YUCK) and as he put it in his mouth, I remember one of us yelling out that everything green was alive and my brother spitting out the brussel sprout! Still makes me laugh!


    1. Hi, Boo! Glad you liked this! Ah, so it was more peaceful that your mom didn't go to church with you -- interesting. Glad you got some peace though. Whew!

      Dang, you worked a lot as a teenager. I laughed out loud about "everything green is alive" hahahahaha! Hilarious! Hugs, Windy

  4. Our Sunday morning weren’t quite as rough as yours, but there were some similarities. Dad could have cared less what he wore so he happily put on what ever mom chose. When she rolled our hair, it was the night before. No curlers, just wound each strand up and put a bobby pin in to hold it. Not comfortable sleep, but doable. Curls were only for Christmas and Easter.

    Once there it was a lot of fun, that’s where we saw all our friends. I remember a family with six kids, the kids came in looking perfect! Starched, ironed, shoes polished, ribbons in hair… the works. Then mom staggered in looking a bit like a crack whore who hadn’t slept (no she didn’t drink, just got kids ready.) I was never allowed to sit beside my Dad because we tended to get one another tickled and if Dad got to laughing he would shake the whole bench.

    We would come home to fried chicken, rice and gravy – still one of my favorite meals. Then it was off to my grandmother’s where we had to sit quietly with her long enough then we could ask to go next door and play with our cousins. It wasn’t the G-mother didn’t like us, but she’d had 8 kids and 26 grandkids and she was just over children in general.

    I pretty much like Sundays. I still go to that same little church, thought now it’s full of ghosts for me. I sure would love to sit with the family again and make my dad laugh.

    1. Hi, PK! I would expect that church in the south was not quite as rough as it is up here sometimes. Seems like it would be more welcoming and relaxing to me.

      Ouch with sleeping in bobby pinned hair though. Aw, that poor exhausted mom with all the children!

      Ah, you had a specific Sunday dinner, too. Sounds delicious! Laughing at your grandmother being over so many children already.

      I love that you were causing trouble with your Dad in the church pew trying not to get the giggles. It is hard not to laugh in church when something tickles your funny bone and the person sitting next to you, too. Wow, you still go to the same church after all these years. So sweet. I'm sure your Dad and Mom are smiling down on you every day, but especially on Sundays. Hugs, Windy

  5. *shudder*

    I have pretty awful memories of church when I was a kid.

    But then my parents got divorced and we stopped going.

    Sunday dinners, though... Yes, there was roast. Fairly often. Also, fried chicken. Sometimes steak. Sunday dinner was normally the "fancy" dinner for the week. The rest of the time we had...I dunno...cheaper(?) foods. Goulash and stroganoff and tuna noodle casserole and such. For lunches (mostly in summertime and on weekends -- days we weren't in school) it was mac & cheese, bologna sandwiches, egg salad, tuna, or pb&j.

    1. Hi, Mrs. Fever!

      I wondered what your reaction might be due to some similar experiences you mentioned in previous comments.

      Oh, your Sunday dinners sound delicious! That was our only fancy day, too. We had bologna times and the like, too. All this food talk is making me hungry! Hugs, Windy

  6. OH the memories you brought back for me Windy
    *sitting on a high wooden stool in the living room watching hockey (groan) with my Dad while my mom curled my hair - tight and I had to sleep in those rollers with picks sticking into my skull
    *being rushed around Sunday morning - getting to church and having to wait till the rest of the extended family showed up - and then we all filed into church with my grandmother (all 5' of her) leading the way to the 'family' pew.
    *Sunday lunch - usually soup and a sandwich - supper was at grandma's house - the whole family - and oh lord the 'debates' that happened over dinner - sounded like fighting to me
    * oh yeah - Sunday was a day of NO cards NO movies NO games NO playing .......

    and I remember my father teaching me NOT to discuss religion or politics - cause it would always cause a fight (grinning)

    1. Hi, MoringStar! Yay for memories and that we still have ours!

      Oh no, the rollers with pins....and sleeping in them. Not a restful night's sleep at all. Poor you!

      That's awesome you had a family pew and Sunday lunch. Ah, family debates like at Sunday dinners on that cop show called Blue Bloods!

      You reminded me that Sundays were indeed about what we couldn't do....I forgot about that. We could watch sports, but the church didn't like anyone actually playing sports on Sundays. That has changed!

      Sounds like your father knew what he was talking about regarding the religion and politics fights. It is so true! Hugs, Windy

  7. Lovely to hear about your memories. I always wanted to have some kind of family ritual like this, but never did. I hope the good memories outweigh the bad!

    -Amren from Operation Awesome

    1. Thank you, Armen! Yes, the good did outweigh the negative for sure. Lots of love to help balance the insecurities of my little mind. lol Thanks for dropping by! Windy