When I was a child, we went to church every Sunday. It was the outing of the week – the one time when the whole family did something together. Before church we had our one cooked breakfast for the week and we boys put on our suits, ties and good shoes.
We wore clip-on bow ties. As I recall mine was a red plaid thing. It was the sixties and my father was still living in the fifties. Father wore clip-on bow ties everyday to the office where he was a tax accountant and had the joyful job of telling people how much they owed the government. Well he did have the joy of sometimes telling people how big their refund would be.
But Sunday wasn’t about taxes. It was about community, and being with family and friends. Well, and there was that whole God, church, religion thing too. There was also an aspect of seeing how much trouble you could get into without getting your “Sunday Clothes” dirty.
After church there was always the coffee hour where we kids would get the red punch, dad a cup of coffee, and mother would get a cup of tea she wouldn’t drink. Then we’d all pile into the car and head home for lunch.
One meal I remember most is chili and grilled cheese sandwiches. It was wonderful. The chili came from a can (Hormel chili con carne without beans plus an added can of kidney beans – yeah seems weird to me now) and we got to use the big electric sandwich grill that could make four sandwiches at a time. Actually it was a waffle grill with changeable plates for sandwiches or waffles (we never made waffles). At seven years old this was just all magical and tasted great.
I’m sure we had other things to eat for our Sunday lunch, but this meal was standard and was always a crowd pleaser for our family. I do recall going to other church members homes for Sunday lunch and being surprised that they didn’t have a sandwich grill. I was also disappointed to learn that Jesus probably didn’t eat chili and that likely he didn’t have sandwiches either. Seemed odd to me, as that would have been an easy way to feed the five thousand – a big pot of chili and a sandwich grill.
This memory comes back to me often on a Sunday. Today it came back because Heather and I had a can of Amy’s Organic Chili. I’ll admit that canned chili isn’t something I relish these days, but it does bring back a flood of memories.
Memories of being told not to run at church, of singing hymns, folding the church bulletin into a paper airplane and flying them from the choir loft. Memories of Sunday School art projects, the Christmas pageant, and the time I played a carol on the piano for the pageant program. Or the many years one of our paper airplanes stayed stuck high on a beam in the sanctuary.
I was reminded of my father today, because I had to write the check for our taxes and was reminded of what he sometimes said about that, “Only them with money has that problem chum.”