“What is a weekend?” asked the Dowager Countess of Downton Abbey. It was a brilliant line, delivered perfectly, quizzically, by Dame Maggie Smith. In just four words, it summed up the life of the British aristocracy, and their disdain for the need of the middle and lower classes to work. It contrasted strongly with my feelings earlier that day, as I realised that the late May Sunday afternoon was slipping away, and that Monday, with the stress, anxiety, and frustration that working with other people brings, was looming.
Recently I have been resenting the unseemly speed of a two-day weekend, those two days a safe haven from the aforementioned stresses and frustration. The time is too short to do everything we want to do – to relax, to get out of the house and have fun, to have a lazy morning in bed, to cook and eat and drink, to have a decadent, perhaps even energetic, afternoon in bed, to catch up on sleep, to catch up on TV or music or books or blogs, to plan travel, to paint, to play the piano, to do a crossword, to read the weekend newspaper, to meet up with friends, to spend time alone, to explore somewhere new. The time is too short to do any of that, and do the things we have to do – the laundry, the ironing, cleaning the house (yeah, right), tidying the garden, the maintenance and repairs (the gutters, the driveway, just don’t mention the deck), visiting the in-laws, buying birthday presents for the relatives, phone the relatives. I’m frustrated, and I don’t have children to take to sports, or the endless round of birthday parties, or music lessons, or dance lessons, or theatre, or swimming, etc etc et cetera.
We’ve just had a three-day weekend here in New Zealand. Three day weekends are I think just about perfect. We managed to tick off a lot of the list above – and in one swoop we managed to catch up with friends, to get out of the city and to do something new (I’ll blog about that later). We don’t have another three-day weekend until late October. That’s a long grind of winter and work to get through. We’re going to thwart that by taking September off. But still, it’s a long time to wait.
Still, part of the joy of a weekend is the knowledge that it is a limited time in which to enjoy ourselves. A respite amidst the chores of everyday life. And there’s nothing quite like a Friday afternoon – the stress begins to fade, the anticipation of freedom smoothes my forehead and drops my tense shoulders and eases my mood. That glass of chardonnay helps too of course, and never tastes better than on a Friday afternoon.