Memories of Sundays in Winters of the Past

The other day I read an article published in a local paper in Aylmer, Ontario Canada called, Hydraulic printing press has been used by local Amish community for 50 years. This is a fascinating story about the way the Amish will adapt technology so that it fits their way of life. It is clear that this press will not be in use much longer, but what isn’t clear is what the group in Aylmer will use for printing instead. I doubt they will just fold their operation for lack of a printing press. They have been supplying Amish families with reading materials for decades.

This brought back so many memories of reading the Pathway publications when I was a teenager. The publications our family subscribed to were Family Life and The Young Companion. (Later when I became a school teacher, I also subscribed to The Blackboard Bulletin.) We’d often read the Pathway publications on Sunday evenings like this when it was dark and cold outside and we were confined to the house. I remember munching on our Sunday evening popcorn and reading one article after another. We didn’t have much reading material in our home, so I devoured those articles.

Once I started thinking about those cold Sunday evenings in winter, I remembered how we used to play games for a pastime. Datt loved to play checkers, and he would coax anyone he could into playing. He would almost inevitably win. When David started visiting with me after we were married, he would play games with Datt, and David rarely won. Datt’s reaction was usually the same, no matter who he was winning against. He’d rock back in his hickory rocker with a big wide satisfied toothless grin. Most people didn’t want to play him after a few games. David being who he is would play him, even if he did get beat.

We siblings played Monopoly quite a bit. I always hated that game. I guess I was never a good Capitalist because if I was ahead, I’d feel sorry for others, and if I fell behind, I’d feel battered and bruised. We also played Parcheesi, Chinese Checkers, Uno, and Old Maid. I’m sure I’m forgetting other games we played, but tonight, on a cold January night in our new home in Virginia, I am being transported back to the Sunday winter afternoons of my childhood when we read, played games, and ate popcorn. Tonight David and I are playing games, reading, and eating popcorn.

Here is a photo of our playing table tonight. I talked David into staying in the photo. He is rather camera shy, and he’s laughing because he’d just made a face before this moment. We’ll play Settlers of Catan and then maybe later we’ll play Carcassonne.

Photo by Saloma Furlong

Eating popcorn on Sunday nights is one of the Amish traditions that few people outside their community know about. I find it interesting that after all these years of living outside my original community, that is one of the traditions I keep. Yes, I’m playing different games and with my husband instead of my siblings, but nothing much else has changed about Sunday nights during the darkest and coldest part of winter. I even pop corn the same way I used to.

What family traditions of your childhood do you continue to practice?

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16 thoughts on “Memories of Sundays in Winters of the Past”

  1. Beautiful post. We are a game playing family as well. So many connections/memories can be made while playing board games. :) I loved this post.

    1. Thanks, Gayle. I had fun writing it.

      David and I just got done playing Settlers of Catan. He won. He is hard to beat when it comes to strategy games.

      I love games. It makes me think of my Scrabble-playing friend, Brett, in Massachusetts… he had a saying, “play always.” It’s important to feel playful, even as adults.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  2. My inlaws also had popcorn for Sunday evenings. My father-in-law used the leftover for cereal the next morning. Anyone else do that?

  3. Interesting about that printing press. I worked at Pathway Publishers in Aylmer for 13 years and that press was in use almost every work day printing the three magazines. I am guessing Aylmer Express is going to do the printing once this printing press retires.

    1. Katie, I forgot you have that connection to Pathway Publishers. I love to think that you were helping put out those magazines in the same years I was reading them. Little did I know then that you and I would meet…

  4. Enjoyed this, this evening, Saloma, and guess what we ate while watching football tonight? POPCORN! Not only is popcorn an Amish tradition, I think it is also a Mennonite tradition in a lot of places! We usually have sliced apples, as well!
    Imagine your old home is buried in snow, this weekend? Do you find the climate in Virginia, quite different?
    Our granddaughter lives currently in MA. They had about 18″ of snow and it was -2* there this morn. Glad that we live in the Pacific Northwest, where the climate is usually milder! Blessings to you

    1. Carol, it’s great to hear from you. Though it has been colder here than normal for this region, it is not unbearable like what they’re having up North. And so far we’ve not had any snowstorms. We’ve had one or two inches back in early December, but that’s it. So we feel very fortunate to have escaped what they’re having up North.

      Funny that you mentioned sliced apples. There were many Sunday nights when we would bring up a bowl of apples from the cellar and someone would core and sometimes peel apples for the family. Datt had a job at an orchard, so we always had several bushels of apples once he began picking in the fall. Wouldn’t it be interesting to find out whether these traditions can be traced back to Germany and Switzerland?

      So glad you’re having a mild winter… the Pacific Northwest is wonderful!

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your comments.

  5. Strange. I don’t remember eating popcorn in my youth. We must have, though, because I’m certainly familiar with it. Every Friday night when my music group gets together to make music I serve a big pot of popcorn, and it’s usually gone before everyone goes home. I personally don’t eat it because I don’t really care for the smell of it and the texture reminds me of styrofoam (sp?)! don’t mind it as long as the pot is put a little distance from me.

    When I was growing up we too played a lot of games, mostly board games – and my dad like yours loved checkers and seldom lost – but we also had physical games that were a lot of fun. Have you ever sat on a floor in a circle with siblings and your dad with your hands wrapped around your ankles, tipped over and then rocked around until you returned to your starting place? We never had a name for it, so far as I can remember, but it was just one of a number of physical activities my dad instituted. When I was young, my dad was a lot of fun. I have a lot of good memories of those days.

    On Sunday evenings, Dad would bring out the stack of hymnals and he and the youngest five or so of the family would seat ourselves at the big library table and sing for a couple of hours. My youngest brother said that was his favorite memory of our childhood.

    1. Elva, those are wonderful memories. Funny that you don’t like popcorn… no wonder you’re no longer Amish! I can understand how you would associate popcorn with Styrofoam. Also funny how you pop corn for others still.

      I never heard of the game you describe, but it sounds like fun. When I was little, Datt used to place each of my feet on each of his, hold my hands, and walk around, giving me a ride. He would do that with each of us when we were little.

      Datt also used to play “I spy” with a thimble. He could really make us look hard.

      Funny though, I don’t remember Mem playing games with us. She didn’t seem to care for them.

      Singing on Sundays was very much an Amish tradition in my community. The people in our family weren’t singers, really. Mem was the only one who could carry a tune.

  6. We often had popcorn on Sunday evenings with hot chocolate. Popcorn and hot chocolate were really good coming in from winter sledding too. Our daughter also has popcorn on most Sunday evenings. Our game of choice is usually Scrabble. My daughter and husband have recently gotten back into playing it once in awhile. My mother-in-law loved scrabble and often she would play against herself. I love popcorn but I have to be careful eating it because of the kernels. No longer are the half popped kernels my favorite. Oh I make my popcorn in a stove top popper called a whirlly gig.

    1. Oh Michele, of course! Another parallel… Scrabble. David does not like the game, but I so love it. I was part of a Scrabble Club up in Massachusetts, and I miss it so. Now I just play online Scrabble on Internet Scrabble Club (ISC). Please let me know if you ever want to play online.

      I pop my corn on the stove too, but I just use a saucepan.

      Always a pleasure to hear from you, Michele.

  7. We usually had popcorn on Sunday afternoons before we went to church in the evenings. The routine was mom on the couch reading the Budget, and then getting up and popping popcorn. I still make popcorn Sunday nights. I can easily eat three or four bowls of it!

    1. Twila, great to hear from you. Oh yes, we’d always have the Budget to read. I always found it rather boring, so I rarely read it.

      My mom had us popping the corn once we were old enough.

      I won’t tell how much popcorn I usually eat. I take after Datt… he could eat a lot.

      Great to see you here, Twila. Have a Happy New Year!

  8. Popcorn on a Sunday evening, yes! Ice cold apple cider or grape juice are favorite drinks that go well with popcorn. My husband & I have gotten into playing ” Qwirkle”. Our children say it’s an old folks game. Not enough action for them I guess! The Pathway papers were always a part of our lives growing up & the reader that I was, I usually had them devoured in short order. I started reading The Budget at a young age. Somehow The Budget, the Pathway papers & popcorn went well together on a Sunday evening. Perhaps it was because we didn’t work on Sundays that our parents didn’t feel guilty sitting down to read & relax for the evening. My step mother was one as long as there is daylight hours you keep on working & to sit & do nothing was wasted time…yes, nice Sunday evening memories!

    1. Mary Ellen we often had homemade grape juice too… or apple cider. And we’d usually have slices of pie that we’d baked the day before.

      The Pathway papers, games, and popcorn spelled Sunday for us in our household, too.

      I know, isn’t it so true… the Amish are so hard-working all week and it’s like that gives them permission to completely relax on Sundays. In fact, they thought of it as godly to refrain from work on Sundays. I like that, actually. I’m trying to live that lifestyle myself.

      Sounds like your stepmother was like my grandmother. I remember how she had us go out and water the garden one hot summer day, and then we got a rain shower right afterwards. I often wondered if she knew it was going to rain, and she made us do it to keep us working. It was not wasting time to her… but us being idle or playing, now that would have been…

      Thank you for sharing your memories… they helped trigger others for me.

      Have a wonderful week.

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