Bits and Bites of Everyday Life


A week of Sundays

By Geneviève Hone
True North Perspective

Geneviève Hone is a grandmother, family therapist and social worker.  With her husband, Julien Mercure (also a family therapist), she has co-authored three books on couples and family life. Her home on the web is

The children come off the school bus to be immediately counted and sorted by the Community Center monitors. “Madeleine, you’re going to swimming class, Maxwell, you go with David to the homework room”.
There’s a brief moment of concerned list checking followed by “Where’s Joseph?”
Joseph is quickly spotted already halfway down the block, whereas he should have been channeled through the large doors along with the other children registered in the after school programs.
Joseph does not seem too happy about being called back, but he understands where his destiny lies, and without too much resistance he lines up with the rest of the herd. “And you, Felicia, your grand-mother is here to walk home with you.” Felicia throws a triumphal look to her school bus mates. Being picked up by grandmother ranks far above participating in the center’s activities as enjoyable as they may be. I’ve come to understand that it’s a question of status in a complex hierarchy established by first graders early in the school year.
Painting by Julien Mercure.

It’s a given that all grandmothers must carry backpacks no matter the state of their old bones, so Felicia hands me her backpack and starts “skipwalking” towards her home. “Skipwalking”, in case you haven’t yet met the word, is the light step that first graders, especially girls, adopt once liberated from the burdens of the school day symbolised by the heavy backpack. Skipwalking is a cross between low flying and straddling large invisible objects. Hard to describe but easily recognizable if you remember that skipwalking is always accompanied by that special grin of the child who’s just off the school bus and is not going into the community center.
Skipwalking does allow for conversation, so I get the ball rolling by asking: “Felicia, on a scale from zero to ten where zero is terrible, really bad, horrible, and ten is very very good, the best you can get, what was your day like?” She reflects for a moment or two, yes, one can reflect while skipwalking, and she answers: “Eight”. “Well, ‘eight’ makes it seem that there were quite a few good things today”, I say. Felicia nods to acquiesce. I continue: “What made the leftover ‘two’ not belong with the ‘eight’?” “Nothing”, replies Felicia. “It’s just that I’m reserving ‘ten’ for Friday.”
I’m immediately reminded of an old song that I loved as a child, the story of a man who had been sent to the galleys because of his habit of wandering aimlessly, though harmlessly, throughout a kingdom where Sundays were outlawed. His mother had warned him as a child: “You want every day to be Sunday. This will get you into deep trouble. The King’s soldiers will pick you up. And I, your loving mother, will die of a broken heart.” I would cry at the thought that a child was not allowed to even wish that every day were a Sunday.
For my grand-daughter, ‘tens’ are reserved for Friday, the best day of the week. For me, it’s Sundays that should warrant full marks even though Sundays have changed much since I was a child. Way back then, for many people, Sunday meant attending a religious service, listening to a favorite radio show, taking a stroll if the weather allowed it, resting, visiting with family. For me, Sunday meant lots of free time for reading, roller skating around the block, throwing a ball against the wall of the house, making dresses for my tiny dolls out of paper tissues. Homework was done, my mother didn’t insist that we use our spare time to tidy our room, stores were closed, so no errands needed to be run. I relished the sense that the world was tranquil, unhurried and generous. We could afford to STOP, to not do some of the things we had to do every weekday. Yes, Sundays definitely warranted a 10!
As I grew up, I gradually lost my sense of Sundays. Studying, working and raising a family blurred the boundaries between weekdays and Sundays. During those years, Sundays somehow evolved from being a special day to being just an extra weekday, more or less all the same. Stores began to remain open, churches began to close down and more and more people started to work through their day of rest to prepare for the coming week. Yet, I kept the memory of how good Sundays made me feel, to the point that I am willing to swear that it never rained on a Sunday throughout my entire childhood! I long for those beautiful days.
On my way home from visiting with my grandchildren, I reflect that it’s high time that I recapture all the Sundays that I missed through being too busy to enjoy them. I’m getting to be of a ripe old age, so there are not that many Sundays left in my life, compared to the other days of the week. So I make an executive decision: from now on there will be a bit of Sunday in every day of the week. But how can I reinstate the Sundays of my childhood as I so loved them? I know I must rule out a few things: certainly roller skating, out of respect for my old bones, and also throwing a ball against a wall, living as I do in a high-rise. Making dresses out of tissue paper is really no longer my thing though I still can have fun with a sewing machine. However, skipping the odd household chore and putting an errand off till tomorrow is certainly a good start towards the reinstatement of Sundays. But what can really make me feel that the world for a moment is as tranquil, unhurried and generous as in the Sundays of my childhood? And suddenly the answer comes to me: a trip to the library! I love going to the library, and our local branch is just a pleasant stroll away. There, as I explore treasures of knowledge and culture, the world will hold still for a few minutes and I am certain that just around a bookshelf, I will find a piece of Sunday to bring home with me and cherish.
So I bring out my shopping cart already loaded with books to be returned, grab my keys and head for the door. “And where are you off to?” asks my husband who very well knows exactly where I’m going. “Just going for a Sunday”, I reply. “I’ll be back for dinner.”