It's all fun and games until...
Playing golf with Dad never meant actually playing golf. It meant driving the golf cart, holding the flag, figuring out what the five-iron was, and getting a large styrofoam cup of hot chocolate and a bacon and egg sandwich, which you would pull apart so you could dip the toast into the chocolate. It meant a lot of time on the practice putting green while Dad and his buddies settled the debts made by the various bets made on the course. It meant listening to my Father curse and his friends tell slightly off-color jokes. It appears to me now as an ex-military late-50's Eden, where the lawn was always green, the mist clung to the ground in the cool mornings, deer would occasionally wander across the fairways, and squirrels would hang around for left over bits of breakfast. I miss sitting there, wrapped in my father's coat, as he zoomed along the little asphalt paths, up and down little man-made hills like it was a roller coaster.
Of course, this all happened before I knew I wasn't supposed to be enjoying this. This sort of activity isn't appropriate for the Sabbath, I have been assured. I never know how to believe that.
My father worked a lot and went to bed early. If we wanted to see him before school, we had to be up before 6 to catch a glimpse. During the week, we had homework (and TV) to keep us occupied, along the the various church functions. Saturday was usually busy with friends, school projects, the garden, chores, and the various things you do to get ready for Sunday. Sunday was for family. Family, in my family, has always meant games.
My wife marvels at this. My family cannot get together and talk without a deck of cards. Not all of our favorite family stories revolve around games of Oh Heck, Balderdash, or Tripoley, but quite a few do. When my brother and I talk, it is, more often than not, to discuss the fate of our fantasy football teams. The bulk of my relationship with a favorite aunt was developed over games of penny-ante poker. That I am close with my cousins at all is entirely due to the existence of face cards. We all play games together and while we play, we talk, joke, tease, murmur, mumble, and shout. I won't pretend that the more profound conversations I have had in life have occurred over a card table, but most of the ones I remember have.
I hated church growing up or, rather, I hated Sacrament Meeting. Long boring talks, slow minor-key hymns, and long uncomfortable seats do not make for happy Sunday memories. But I loved the Sabbath. It was the day my family played together. It was the day when we felt most like a family.
If the Sabbath is the day that we give back to the Lord, I don't know how it could be better spent.