The French reserve Sunday for families. Is it a bonne idée? Or could we ever go back to taking the Seventh Day off to be with our clan?
Do you remember when Sunday was sacred? When the notion of shopping on the Seventh Day wasn’t even a consideration? How we have changed.
I ran out of nappies in Lyon, France on a Sunday recently. Not for myself, for my baby Joe, one and half years old. It was the second time I’d been caught out in Lyon with Joe. The first was when he was a few months old and I was with a friend who ironically was breastfeeding her two year old while I searched the city for formula milk.
In an ideal world I would have been a natural breastfeeder but feck it, there was nothing natural about it for me.
It was torture with all three of my boys, an endurance test that ended within weeks as I just couldn’t take the toe curling agony anymore. Formula milk, quite frankly, has been a Godsend. Yes I know breast is best, save it.
Anyway as if to punish me for my unnatural ways, I ended up traipsing Lyon to find a late night pharmacy, while my friend’s toddler kept reaching for booby. We did laugh…later.This time, I eventually found nappies in a corner shop (even they’re mostly closed on a Sunday), a bizarre plastic variety that looked like they would never biodegrade. Sorry Earth. Parenting is a messy business.
We are so used to getting what we want, when we want in Ireland, any day of the week at any time, more or less. It is a shock to the system to be in another EU country where convenience is not a given.
For the French Sunday is still sacred. It’s government policy to protect the family and ensure there is at least one day dedicated to spending time together. They don’t even go big into Sunday newspapers, as it would be deemed too much of a distraction from family time. Many shops also stay closed on Mondays. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
I remember the Sundays of my youth: my darling mother always making the effort to rustle up a roast for a sit-down meal together; my father hijacking the TV for the Sunday Game as we all regretted knocking that wall to join the sitting room with the dining room; Sunday drives to relatives, being suffocated by my mother’s Poison perfume; lolling about with little to do and all day to do it. Until you realised you hadn’t done your homework just as Glenroe’s credits rolled and it was bedtime.
I took it for granted then, but looking back there was an innocence to it considering we’re all so busy these days, we need to book in with each other weeks in advance just to say hi.
Let’s not even mention how technology has stolen our personalities. Try going one day, one hour without your mobile phone. That was another lesson I learnt in France. My mobile got nicked on the subway and I was left sitting on my hands. There was nothing I could do to make contact with the world or take a photo of the endless opportunities slipping away before my eyes, no Instagram Stories to upload. I had a ton of emails to respond to but I had to succumb to the Divine Intervention. Perhaps the French to too far but maybe we go too far in the other direction also. Sunday service has ended. May you go in peace.