Friday, April 22, 2011

Dear Home Depot: Do you really have to be open on Easter?

One of my co-workers, Travis, works a part-time job. He and I share a cubicle wall, and I heard him talking this morning about being scheduled to work that job, at Home Depot, on Easter.

I was incredulous. But I don’t know why I should have been.

(A warning: My age is going to show in this blog post like a pair of purple panties under a pair of white linen pants. You’ve been warned.)

What has happened to family holidays? I’m not even talking Christian-versus-non-Christian observation here, but a family holiday – a day when stores are closed, work isn’t completed, movies aren’t showing in theaters, and people play board games or hang out on the couch watching bad TV. I haven’t seen one of those for a long time.

When I was little, that’s all there were. We’d wake up, go to Mass, and then the relatives would come. We’d talk, eat, talk some more, eat, play some games, half-heartedly watch whatever sport or “big-event” movie was on TV, and call it a day.

Even as I grew older, holiday rules didn’t change. I distinctly remember having to stretch my phone cord long enough to hide in my bedroom closet and sneak a phone call with my high-school boyfriend. Each of us, you see, had strict Catholic parents who had forbidden anything non-family-related on Easter.

And Good Friday – that was even more intense, from an isolated-with-the-family standpoint. When I was little, between the time we woke up and when we attended Stations of the Cross, we could do little but read quietly. We couldn’t even think of turning on the TV or the radio; out of respect for the suffering of Jesus, we had to have lengthy “quiet time.” I remember vividly that when 3 o’clock came around, I was so (uncharacteristically) happy to head to church.

But now – well, here it is, Good Friday, and most of us went to work. (Not everyone is Christian, so that makes sense, but I still would have liked to see the workday world stop for just one day.) My mother-in-law is here from Illinois, so we’re not likely to have quiet time; tonight will be spent playing cards and probably doing some shopping.

Tomorrow, my 14-year-old stepson has ball games all day; strangely enough, ball tournaments really don’t even constitute “family time,” as I sit in the bleachers and talk with the moms as my husband stands and paces several feet away. We’ll be cold and cranky, and by the end of the day we’ll be too wiped to interact with anyone, even those in our own house.

We’ll do Mass and a family meal with the relatives on Easter; my kids will come from their colleges and spend a few hours before rushing back to their activities. Later on, I’ll catch up on some writing and some laundry and get ready for the week.

None of this is bad or detrimental in any way, really; we’re not disregarding the holiday. But to most people these days (“these days”? Told you I’d show my age), a holiday is simply another excuse to play catch-up, and we’re no exception.

I was easily bored as a child, and in no way would I want to go back to quiet Good Fridays; yes, we had the day off school, but what was the point if you couldn’t watch Betty Lou and the House with the Magic Window?

At the same time, though, I miss seeing my grandma walk into our house with platters of baked goods and tell us in hushed tones that Easter is the best day of the whole year, because "on this day, Jesus rose from the dead and proved to his detractors that he really was the son of God."

That was a holiday. Here’s what’s not a holiday: Knowing that Home Depot is open so we can stop and pick up a gallon of paint if we absolutely can’t wait till Monday. Even if the store is festooned with cardboard eggs and bunnies, it’s just another indicator that not everything changes for the better.


  1. I was just bemoaning this very subject with a fellow Catholic "girl" this morning. I remember every Good Friday I got out of school 20 minutes early to attend services with my mom. No one batted an eye 1/2 the class was getting out. We'd spend Friday and Saturday, quietly anticipating Easter Sunday. Chocolate, for the first time in 40 days! Ham dinner, new dresses and time with the cousins.

    Holidays were almost always family time, even in the most tumultuous times we managed to pull it together for the holidays.

  2. I can't get over how many little kids' soccer practices I pass on Sunday mornings. Sometimes I would even pass them on my way to or from church. Now I'm not terribly church-y but that just seems wrong. If nothing else, our culture should at least respect certain times as dedicated family time. And this from a childless spinster, no less.

  3. a past parish priest wants all parents to band together and protest sports during sunday and holy week. especially because he sees catholics penalized for missing sundays, but not protestants for missing wednesdays. discrimination!