Sundays of days gone by, like a day set aside in every possible way, bonded us together as a family in a way that few younger generations could ever fully understand.
After church, we often enjoyed chicken, gravy and mashed potatoes with biscuits, a change from our usual beef-eating big meals throughout the week. We hurried to clean up the kitchen, get the dishes all washed and put away because it was the day to take a ride in the car.
Nothing — absolutely no business of any kind — was open on Sunday. The world really did stop in a way that is difficult to imagine in today’s “gotta have it now” mentality. So, we didn’t get in the car to run anywhere specific, but to take a Sunday ride to nowhere.
Dad always drove. If it weren’t for Sunday drives back when I was very young, I doubt Dad ever would have gotten a turn to drive the car. His hours were spent on tractors and in his beat-up farm truck that certainly wasn’t a smooth treat to drive. That, in part, might explain his joy in taking those Sunday expeditions.
We knew not to ask where we were going; we went where the road took us, and we knew we would be back home for milking time.
Sometimes the back roads of our rural community were all we covered during growing season, with Dad driving slowly to see how neighboring farmers were faring in the latest weather extreme. To this day, I can hear his comments about a nice stand of corn, or wheat that had been leveled by a bad windstorm. He always expressed empathy, wishing other farmers the best possible outcome.
Other seasons, if time permitted, we might go visit friends of my parents or take a much longer drive just to see an area we hadn’t been through for a long while.
“I wonder where this road will take us?” I remember Dad saying, and I worried we might be lost for days. Those roads always lead us safely back to where we started.
When we got back home with a little free time to spare before chores called us to the dairy barn, Dad might catch up reading his farm magazines, with Mom relaxing nearby, and my siblings and I choosing a swim in the farm pond, a bike ride or a board game, depending on the season.
Sunday nights after milking time and a light meal, we nearly always dressed up and headed out to visit my maternal grandparents. When I was very young, I have a vague memory of Mom packing our pajamas, and later changing out of our dresses in case we fell asleep on the way home.
By today’s standards, we accomplished very little on those olden day Sundays, other than the most necessary chores of running a dairy farm. I realize now just how sacred those days were for all of us. It really was a day to break from daily demands, a family day away from the world.
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