10 Things My Family Did or Didn’t Do on Sunday

You must not work on Sunday, Sunday, Sunday

You must not work on Sunday because it is a sin.

But you can work on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday,

Thursday, Friday, Saturday till Sunday comes again.

Sung to a melody with a 4-note range similar to “Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush.”

10 Things My Family Did or Did Not Do on Sundays

What we did . . .

  1. Went to church, always unless deathly ill
  2. Invited folks to a nice Sunday dinner after church – or were invited to home of relatives or friends. “Don’t look on turns” was a saying spoken readily from one hostess to the other but not strictly adhered to. Dinner served with fine china, crystal, best silver unless it was a picnic
  3. Drove in the Studebaker to Uncle Landis, Uncle Abe or Aunt Verna’s house – Didn’t call ahead, just appeared at the door – and they would do the same!
  4. Took a walk in the woods or across fields
  5. Nap, my mom in the bed, my dad in his chair
Daddy drying dishes - Only on Sundays after church!
Daddy drying dishes – Only on Sundays after church!

What we never did . . .

  1. Ate in a restaurant
  2. Went shopping
  3. Did the laundry
  4. Cleaned the house
  5. Mowed the lawn

Our neighbors, Paul and Edna Mumma, owned and operated the Clearview Diner along Route 230 between Elizabethtown and Mt. Joy, Pennsylvania. As members of the Church of the Brethren (an Anabaptist group similar to the Mennonites) the Mummas adhered to the closed-on-Sunday rule as well.

Clearview Postcard_front

Clearview Postcard_back_back

Nowadays most retail stores are open seven days a week. Banks and almost all businesses are accessible online even on Sundays. Yet there remain a few stores like Hobby Lobby and Chick-fil-A whose doors are locked on the Lord’s Day, the latter with soaring profits.


Your thoughts please – a reminiscence or an opinion!

Coming next –  Ian’s Miracle Birth: The Million Dollar Baby


32 thoughts on “10 Things My Family Did or Didn’t Do on Sunday

  1. Good morning, Marian! This is almost the exact opposite of my Sundays growing up–and of course, if my family had been religious, we would not have done any work on Saturdays. I am glad most businesses are open on Sundays now. There are many people who do not believe Sunday is the Lord’s Day. Your family Sundays did sound relaxing–and it sounds like you have many fond memories of it. Maybe it was not so relaxing for your mother though, unless she prepared all the food on Saturday? 🙂

    When I was in 7th grade, my mom was taking my sisters and me to the Philadelphia Museum of Art one Sunday. We lived in the suburbs at the time. Sundays were usually our day to go on outings because my mom worked the rest of the week. I had invited a friend from school. Their family was from England, and the father was teaching at Haverford College. The mother drove my friend over to our house shortly before we were leaving, and told my mother that Sunday was their Sabbath, and her daughter was not allowed to go. I got the sense that she did not approve of us. The next year, the daughter, Patty, was sent back for “proper” schooling in England.


    1. Your anecdotes illustrate the contrasts in each family’s traditions. Sometimes there is a clash of cultures as your 7th grade experience shows. Poor Patty, what an opportunity she missed. I hope she got exposure to the arts back in England.

      You’re right – Sundays weren’t very relaxing for women, especially in Mother’s case because she liked to entertain. Thanks again for commenting and for always adding something meaningful to start us off.


  2. Thanks. I always enjoy your blog.

    This brought back many memories. I am now 73 and was raised in a little Mennonite Brethren Church in Premont, Texas (Unfortunately now it is in the heart of all the South Texas border problems. It breaks my heart.)

    I also had your same Does and Don’ts.

    Also included in the Don’t were never roller skating, biking, or going to the lake with friends.

    In the afternoon I could read. At 3:00 pm we also listened to The Fuller Hour (Heavenly Sunshine) out of CA, Back to the Bible Broadcast out of NB, Moody out of Chicago, or Billy Graham.

    In the evening we always had to go to YPCA – Young People’s Christian Ass. And Wednesday night we also went to prayer meeting.

    Later when I got in high school my father relented on the evening church services because he realized I had so much homework and piano and flute practice.

    We certainly have different times now.

    Myrna Warkentin Garrick

    12 Crescent Drive

    New Cumberland, PA 17070


    1. Thanks for adding so much extra detail to the Do’s and Don’t’s on this post. Your comment about not biking or roller skating reminded me of my mother’s disapproval of my dad’s playing baseball with the young guys after a family picnic because other men my dad’s age weren’t participating. “What would people think?” was a question always in people’s minds back then.

      Welcome to my my blog, Myrna and thanks for commenting. You added so much to our conversation today. Do visit again!


  3. Our Sundays were almost exactly the same. Only as an adult did I come to appreciate this wonderful and life-giving practice to truly set aside the day as something special and restful. Now I love the opportunity to not feel I have to do something productive or busy.


    1. You are right, Melodie. In focusing on the negative, we (I!) tend to overlook the positive: time to rest, re-charge and not feel a compulsion to get something else checked off the to-do list.


  4. Sundays for my family were similar, Marian. At the time, I was a Lutheran (I converted to Catholicism when I was 21). On Sundays:
    1. I went to church
    2. I went to Sunday School
    3. I went to Luther League – activities geared toward those still in school.
    4. We had a proper Sunday dinner. (But all our supper/dinner meals were ‘proper.’)
    5. The only time my family and I will not go shopping is on major holidays. We feel those working people need the day off to be with their families, too.


    1. How interesting that you mention that “those working people need the day off to be with their families.” I believe I heard Mother and Daddy say something like that too — as though their not going to restaurants or shopping would induce a change of store policy. But to them, it was the principle that counted.

      I see you are a list-maker too, Judy!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This sure sounds like the Kraybill household. We went to Harrisburg to Hamilton Street Mennonite Church for several years and Dad would never have stopped on the 45 minute trip back to Elizabethtown,
    You sure made me hungry when you showed Clearview. We took my grandma to eat there on a regular basis. Is that still going?
    Thanks so much for helping me remember those Sundays.


    1. You’re welcome, Donna. Like others raised in the Elizabethtown area, you can visualize the the stores and restaurants I am referring to even without a picture.

      Nothing after it was sold made a splash like the Clearview which has changed hands many times in the past decades. The last time I noticed, the named is now Bappo’s and seems to be doing okay though I don’t see as many cars there as in the Clearview heyday.


  6. Things rigs true for my grandparent’s little Southern Baptist Church where Grandfather was a Deacon. Another rule was that there was no shooting guns or killing on Sunday. Grandmother always killed the chickens for Sunday dinner on Saturday. Any other day of the week we were encouraged to shoot squirrels out of the pecan trees, but they got to feast on Sundays. I wonder if the squirrels waited for Sunday?


    1. It’s time we heard from a woman from the South. Your mention of guns adds to the Southern mystique, Susan. I believe it was taken for granted that there would be no shooting/killing on Sundays in our area either though it wasn’t specifically written into the rules that I know of. Why gunshots would make noise!


  7. Oh, your mother had no window over the sink!

    We had, and still do, almost the same list of don’ts . Nowadays we don’t use the computers on Sunday. Sunday morning breakfast is usually a coffee cake we made Saturday . Sunday dinner at 1pm is usually hot dishes and sides we prepared earlier, then put in the oven to cook when we get home from church and Sunday school…like lasagna. Sunday night’s usually things like soup and crackers and cheese, or chili. We’re not averse to doing things like making smores or ice cream in the summer or other spur of the moment desserts with what’s on hand, especially if visitors drop by.

    We could read, play board games, listen to the radio..classical or religious, take walks, nap, knit or sew. Often because of so many relatives there might be a birthday to celebrate or a new baby to visit, close by or or an hour or so away.

    Wednesday night are the church youth groups and AWANA. Around here , even in the public schools, Wednesday night’s are kept free due to so many churches having Wednesday night activities.

    I know emergency loads of laundry have been done over the many years, as when stomach flu runs around the children like wildfire. There is even a set of clotheslines in basements for this reason. But shopping, eating out… we manage to avoid altogether. I agree with the Gandhi quote, as mentioned by Judy.


  8. Thank you for giving us a window into your world with some values shared by other readers. (By the way, my mother got her window view above the sink when her kitchen was remodeled in the 1960s. You are very observant!)

    I like that you plan ahead to have a day of rest but have flexibility for emergencies or a fun fling. A computer-free Sunday sounds like a great idea, Athanasia.


  9. Growing up we would all get together to eat together because we weren’t churched. Then when I went to Pennsylvania to my program at New Life for Girls and spent every other Sunday at Moms that I learned to do Sundays like they did.
    Now we go to church. I cook before I leave for church so that the food is ready so that all I have to do is put it in serving bowls. The table is already set. We always make enough in case anyone else shows up. Then we rest for the rest of the day. I’m a strong believer that we don’t work in Sundays. My grand kids love that we just relax. Thank you for your post.


    1. You are welcome, Gloria. It is true that you are the second generation of the Ray Longenecker family to be taught to attend church on Sundays. I”m glad also that you still regard Sunday as a day of rest. Resting on Sundays is a lost art in most families I believe.


  10. Many miles away from your family, my family had similar schedules and activities on Sundays. I wonder how sad it might have felt to leave the hay in the field, untouched, even though it was a glorious hay day….or, to ignore the dirty clothes, even though it was a great drying day. On second thought, ‘keeping the Lord’s day,’ which is also one of the Ten Commandments, was reinforced by the mainstream culture in the way shops and businesses were closed.

    I think that solid practice of “Sabbath” from my childhood has helped me find and live into and keep practices new to me that make every day holy, such as meditation or yoga or Breema bodywork.

    Thank you for this post, and all of them!


    1. Thank you for expanding on the topic. Every day can be a holy day as we adapt old traditions making them something new. I agree, meditation is a good practice every day of the week. I’m curious about the Breema bodywork you mention.

      And thank you, Dolores, for your faithful reading and comment today.


  11. Marian — I love the photograph of your parents doing the dishes together. Just look at your mom’s smile and your dad’s grin!

    I, too, remember when the “sidewalks were rolled up” on Sundays. The pharmacy was closed, the ice cream parlor was closed, the roller rink was closed, most restaurants and grocery stores were closed, even the Bijou Movie Theater in our town was closed.

    I enjoyed reading through the other comments. Like Dolores (whose comment is above mine), I view each day as sacred (not one less special than the other).


    1. It strikes me reading your comment, Laurie, that closed businesses meant a quieter environment. And don’t we all crave less noise in this mad world? Quietness — solitude even. I’m looking forward to some of that tomorrow. As you often wish me, “Have a shiny penny kind of day, Laurie.”


  12. Our list was much the same as yours. Also, NO FISHING on Sundays.
    Alas, some of our more northern neighbors have started opening their bank doors on Sunday afternoons. Wonder if it will make its way to the south.


    1. Fishing seems like a quiet sort of recreation. In your case, growing up in semi-rural Georgia, I’m guessing the rule was meant to discourage substituting fishing for church attendance.

      As a banker yourself, I guess you would notice Sunday bank openings especially as you travel. Apparently, we are moving toward 24/7 hours for every establishment.

      I’m learning something new with every comment. Thanks, Carolyn.


  13. My mom believed in keeping Sunday as a day of rest. We would go to church and have a nice Sunday dinner after,often with guests. Many times guests would just stop in, right at meal time but mom would just throw in a few more potatoes or fry up a home made sausage to stretch the meal. It really wasn’t much of a rest for her actually when I think of it. Dad, on the other hand, believed you had to make hay while the sun shone and he couldn’t afford to take a Sunday off when the crops needed to be harvested. He would stop long enough to join us for a meal at those times but it was back out in the fields after. Mom wasn’t happy about it but we were all well provided for and he was a good man. Just very practical.


  14. Dolores in a comment above mentioned the push-pull of her dad’s needing to harvest the hay but having to wait because of the no-work-on-Sunday restriction. Your dad’s solution seems to be a less stressful one. Besides it was a rare exception to the rule.

    Yes, women often didn’t get to rest on Sundays, especially if “company” was coming. Both of your parents sound like practical people. Nice to hear from you again, Darlene.


    1. The irony is that we don’t mind intruding/interrupting via cellphone calls or texts, yet we hesitate to make a friendly visit. I too have followed suit by calling ahead, visiting only my sister spontaneously. Even then, sometimes I call ahead. Thanks for the observation.


  15. How fun to read your blog, Marian! What an interesting life you’ve led. There are quite a few Mennonite families that live across the bay in our area. You have such a unique perspective on life, one that may have taken some time to relax into. Thank you for visiting my blog. Blessings to you.


    1. Thank you for the visit and the comment, Kathy. There are many different strands of Mennonites. I’m guessing the ones you knew about are from a less conservative one. Blessings to you too!


  16. Wow, just so polar opposite to my dysfunctional life. Your childhood seemed like a fairytale to me. 🙂 It’s always nice to come here and read about a different era. 🙂


    1. My family seemed too strict and fuddy-duddy to me, but at least there was consistency, which probably was lacking in your family as you imply. At the very least, I lived in a “different” era all right. I’m glad you enjoyed this, Debby.


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