Remember back in the day when stores used to be closed on Sundays? I remember as a kid mainly because I remember it being such a big deal when the blue laws were passed and stores were allowed to be open on Sundays. Initially they were only open from around 12PM – 5PM, so a much shortened day. But as time has progressed, those stores have started to open earlier and close later.
What does this mean for us as consumers? Well, it’s certainly a convenience. I could go pick up that cake mix needed for those cupcakes I have to make for Monday’s birthday party. Or if I decided at the last minute that I wanted to plant some flower bulbs I could run off to Home Depot and not think twice about it. Sunday became like any other day of the week – full of things to do, errands to be run and places you “needed” to be.
So when we moved to Barcelona and suddenly everything (except restaurants) was closed on Sundays – and that includes the grocery store (can you imagine not being able to run to Stop n Shop on a Sunday evening at the last minute???), you can imagine the culture shock for us. What do you mean we can’t run our errands today? But what if I need milk or eggs or bread??
Well, first off, you need to prepare accordingly. Get your eggs, milk and bread ahead of time. And the grocery store on Saturday afternoon reminds me of people getting ready for a snowstorm at home. It’s as if there is this fear of going hungry because you might run out of food in one day. Has anyone ever run out of food in one day? I joke, but you know I’m in the grocery store on Saturday too making sure I have turkey for the kids lunches on Monday. And when we go on vacation, if we are returning on a Saturday night or Sunday, I have to buy what I need for Monday before we even leave!
Anyways, back to our Sundays. It took a while for us to get used to the idea of planning ahead for stores to be closed on Sundays. Even longer was the adjustment to learning to just relax on Sunday because there were no errands to be done or chores to hold us back from just enjoying our day. But now we’ve come to realize that the Spanish (and many other European countries) have it right. This day should be about rest and it should be about family.
We spend so much of our waking hours “getting things done”. To do lists. Work. Household chores. Taking care of the family. And while certainly there are things that you can still do when the stores are closed, I see it as a sign that you are meant to take this day and take a step back from the chaos for just a little bit so that you can share quality time with loved ones. The work will always be there for you on Monday – it’s not going anywhere.
Often times the kids still forget things are closed on Sundays and ask if we can go to El Corte Ingles or somewhere else to shop. We have to remind them that the stores are closed. They shrug their shoulders like it’s no big deal and move along. It’s something they’ve become used to as a part of life. However, when we go home to the States each summer, Aidan is well aware that almost all stores are open all day, every day. And yes, we go shopping on Sunday. In fact, last year we were at Target by 8:30 Sunday morning.
However, I don’t want this to become our habit when we eventually move back to the States. Sure it’s a plus to be able to pop on over to Target when thewhim calls. But at the same time, I don’t want to go back to these old habits. The result of us having gone on this adventure of European life for the last several years is that we’ve changed. We recognized aspects of our lives that weren’t bad before but now see that they can be better and this is one way we can bring that change back with us. How well we stick with it might be another story!