Outside the sun is shining making the berries on the Rowan tree my window looks onto shine like tiny Christmas baubles. And it is Sunday. A day for kicking back and taking stock, reading the papers, clearing the mind, preparing for the week ahead.
As a child I was taught that Sundays were special: the mornings were taken up with church, we wore our best clothes, the tone was hushed and whatever the weather was like outside I always sat shivering for that preaching hour as the ancient walls sucked the heat from my blood. Once back at home my father listened to the archers 'shush...' and my mother cooked lunch: the fabled Sunday roast. Every Sunday was like a mini Christmas but without the presents. After lunch we were allowed to change and go out to play, it was such a relief to be ourselves again.
Later, Sundays were spent at my in-laws. These were the mid years. Church was no longer a feature but there was still an air of 'best' about the day and we would all dress with care. My mother-in-law would get up early to prepare the meal: roast beef or lamb or chicken, vegetables aplenty,crisp and soft roast potatoes, and pudding. This usually involved Bird's custard, richly yellow with a faint taste of raw cornflour, it was oddly moreish. At this table debate raged about all number of subjects and it was years before I could join in, it seemed so alien for children (we were children, still, in my eyes) to argue with their parents. I ate in bewildered awe. After lunch, we females would clear away the dishes while the males finished the wine and settled down with the papers. In the kitchen the preparation for 'tea' would begin. A cake or two would be baked and various packets of pancakes and potato scones would release their contents onto best china, new jars opened to reveal exotic preserves and crumpets toasted. Sometimes, if there was time between the two meals, we would go out for a walk along the river and feed the ducks. However, if there was an 'antiques' fair on in town time would be created, tea would be put back, and we would all squeeze into my father-in-law's Volvo to go and coo over faded crockery and old oak chests of drawers.
As Stevie and I settled into our own life as a couple, and then parents too, we created our own Sundays out of our heritage. For years we did the whole dressing up thing with me in the kitchen chopping and basting, mixing and baking, stomping and stressing as he sat and read the papers and Bob pulled at my skirt. But slowly and surely as life became less formal, more relaxed, Sundays took on the comfortable hue they have today.
Now I wear the same old clothes I wear every other day, I cook the way I always cook and we eat in the evening as normal. Anyone who wants lunch can have Saturday's left-overs or make themselves a sandwich, I do only one meal a day. And I can spend hours with the papers if I so choose. It is still a special day, however. We are usually all at home and I do sometimes bake a cake or make pudding with custard - made from vanilla infused cream and eggs - but only if I want to. We sit and read in unison and there is still a sense of hush about the day. Sometimes we go out for a walk in the hills or along the river, and over the evening meal we discuss the issues of the day picked from our various current interests. Afterwards we might watch a film together or we might go back to our separate, but somehow together, activities.
In a way I miss the days of frantic kitchen activity wearing an apron to protect my Sunday best, but not enough to actually effect a return. I save that kind of thing for Christmas now. Sunday is, after all, supposed to be a day of rest.
How do you 'do' Sunday, I'd love to know?