Everyone I know has a Sunday tradition or some sort of ideal. There’s this strange uplifting energy in the air, and it feels like everyone in the universe is tapped into it. If you’re working, you watch the Sunday people go by doing their Sunday activities and you wish you could join them. If you’re not working you frolic around having all sorts of fun and daydream about being a king and making every day Sunday...
I really like Sundays.
In reality this energy probably stems from the fact that it is an ancient religious and now secular day of rest, because it is the last day of the weekend, and because the banks are shut and no one is expected to do any work (as Bob Cratchet said to Scrooge about Christmas, there is no one to do business with.)
It is a time for relaxing, unwinding, feasting, friends and family. It's a time for leisure, sports, reading, cooking and sometimes even cleaning, but not the boring, arduous kind of cleaning: the therapeutic kind, that involves decluttering your room and filling the garden with pot plants.
I am lucky enough to be able to say that my memories of Sundays in the country are wrought with sunny afternoons, endless games of 40/40, fake games of tennis and cosy evenings by the fire eating crumble made with fruit from the garden. At home the sound of Ella Fitzgerald would be playing in the kitchen, the smell of roast dinner cooking in the oven, the back door wide open and Sunday newspapers on the kitchen table.
Recreating this feeling has been my mission for the last few months.
I tried to achieve this by a trial and error of doing Sunday type things on Sundays and seeing what fits with the city lifestyle. I’ll get up slow, buy the paper, go to a friend's for a roast, visit the Hampstead ladies pool, go to the local tennis courts or visit a local market to buy apples and make a crumble in my kitchen.
On colder days I curl up with friends and watch a deliberately terrible movie, whilst under a blanket drinking red wine and warming myself by the imaginary fire-burner in our living room. When I say imaginary I do mean imaginary: personally I feel that using a youtube video that makes your computer screen look like a fireplace is a little desperate. I’ve never gone so far as to make a roast if it's just me and a housemate or two, but it sounds like a nice idea.
The sad thing is that I've only recently had the time and headspace to really embrace Sundays. The main factor is that I worked most weekends from the age of 18 to 28, but I think there’s more to it. Even if you work a 9-5 job, it seems increasingly so, that there is always something to be getting on with at the weekends, regardless of how many people are around to respond to your emails. This means that the switch between work and leisure can be non-existent at worse, and blurred at best. It's never been more important to set boundaries.
This isn't about self-care or making the most of your time, this is as simple as remembering that careers are not the most important things in the world. This I learnt from looking back at a time where these things didn’t exist, where work was a dream for the future, and the most important thing was making sure I didn’t miss the school bus (which I did frequently.)
The thing is, being able to choose what you do for a living is a relatively new idea. People used to work the first job they were given for life, or not at all in most cases for women (these lifelong careers are where we get surnames like 'Gardener' and 'Shepherd' from by the way.) It's also interesting to note that in a world where there was less time to rest, they invented a thing called Sundays: an entire day of resting. It's easy to feel the pressure to make the most of the opportunities available to you, and we definitely should if that's our choice, but make sure you find some ‘Sunday Time’.
Take half an hour to yourself every day, don't work over lunch if you can help it and do something special for yourself once in a while. Socialise, play, breath and take one day (it doesn't have to be Sunday but it helps) to be absolutely kind to yourself, to rest and to indulge - if you dare. It will make the rest of your week so much more glorious, rich and fulfilling, and will open you up to being even more kind and generous to everyone around you if you do.
Kate-Lois Elliott is an actor and writer. She has worked at XYZ Magazine Brighton and Mouth London. Kate was the assistant editor for The Shapers Project book with The Creative Society, Jazz FM and Mishcon De Reya, has had her short fiction read out on Wandsworth Radio/Either-Author and had her work staged at Theatre 503. She regularly champions first time playwrights with her company Backbone Theatre, who run workshops and readings at London venues. Past Backbone productions have played at the Roundhouse, The Bush Theatre and the Blue Elephant Theatre, Camberwell. (Spotlight: 2212-9084-8035). http://www.kateloiselliott.com/