Bonnie Shell's Life Stories

What was your weekend tradition when you were a kid?

When I was young, Saturday was a housecleaning day, and my dad always worked a half day. In the evenings, we usually visited with family and friends.

My parents had a lot of friends, so Saturday evenings were usually spent with someone coming to our house or visiting someone. The parents usually played cards. Most of my parents' friends had kids similar in age to me, my sister, and my brother. We all found something in common, so we sometimes went for a walk, stayed in and played games, or just sat and talked about our friends and what was happening in school.

Sunday was always a family day. We went to church in the morning and then had Sunday dinner together. In those days, kids were not involved in sports or other activities. On Sundays, we sometimes visited with grandparents or aunts and uncles, but when my father finally got a car, our favorite pastime was going for a ride. My dad worked for a lumber company, and we would go to the suburbs to check out the building sites. On the way home, we would stop at a Jewish deli for corned beef, rye bread, and big dill pickles or stop at a place called Prince Castle for an ice cream treat.

We lived in a neighborhood where most families had similar traditions. Kids did not visit their friends on Sunday. You saw your friends at and after school. When my mom went to work outside the home, I didn't interact much with my friends. I had to help my sister and brother with homework and have dinner on the table when my parents got home from work. I was twelve years old. We went to Catholic School so many evenings that we were expected to attend a church function. There was always a reason for a rosary or procession. I didn't get to my homework until after 8 pm on these nights. We always had a lot of homework, so I didn't get to bed until late.

As an adult and a mom, I always tried to keep Sunday a family day. We did things as a family, like visiting grandparents or maybe going to a play or a movie or to Chicago to one of the museums. I think we need to bring family Sundays back. Parents and children need to be more connected. I also think children should get to know their grandparents if at all possible.