Breakfast Comes But Once a Week

Almost every Saturday since I’ve reached my majority, I have had breakfast out with my parents and brothers, and anyone else who cares to join. We share news, update progress toward our goals or reminisce, each time strengthening our family bond. I have never taken this time with my family for granted. I know there are many families who don’t want to spend time together, and I cherish the closeness we have with one another as I look forward to seeing everyone over our weekly meal. I wrote a poem about it several years ago:

Breakfast Comes but Once a Week

Saturday of all the days
Is my favorite one, in many ways.
Especially when the bill Dad pays,
Breakfast comes but once a week.

Like this meal there is no other
Fellowship with one another
Shall I sit with Dad, or Mother?
Breakfast comes but once a week.

Even when our noses drip,
Or on concrete one does slip,
But not when the folks are on a trip,
Breakfast comes but once a week.

Sometimes when I need excusing,
And in bed I should be snoozing,
Instead it’s coffee I am choosing
Breakfast comes but once a week.

Get out of bed, no time to lose!
Come on now, put on your shoes.
Time to catch up on family news!
Breakfast comes but once a week.

The weekly breakfast has become sort of ritualistic over the years. We take turns deciding on the restaurant so that each person gets a chance to pick at least once a month, deciding not just on personal taste, but also on the needs of the family (not too noisy or Dad can’t hear, not too crowded or we get slow service, close to a jobsite if someone has to work afterward). Whoever gets the table first orders coffee for everyone, and we make sure there’s strawberry jam for Mom’s toast.

We apply a rating system to every restaurant: three X’s and the place is off limits. A place can earn either one X on three visits, or three X’s on one visit (and in this case, we tell all our friends not to go there either). A restaurant can earn an X for anything from bad parking or tricky access to lousy food or dirty bathrooms. Although we judge a restaurant on common things like service, seating, price, and food quality, the number one qualifier is bacon. Floppy or under-cooked bacon might earn a place three X’s right away, but good bacon might make the lousiest, hole-in-the-wall greasy spoon a part of our regular rotation. If an entrée doesn’t include bacon, Dad usually orders a side that we can all share.

Somebody usually orders a breakfast burrito because we like to compare restaurants to see who has the best one. I think it’s a Colorado thing, but some restaurants have such good green chile we will drive clear across town for it. The chile has to have locally-sourced peppers and be the perfect balance of spicy vs. savory; it has to be good either by itself or over eggs and sausage.  Bland chile made with canned peppers is grounds for an X.

Coffee, another qualifier of a good restaurant, is almost as important as bacon or green chile. If the place has bad coffee, or if it’s difficult to get refills, the place gets an X. I usually allow myself one cup of coffee per day, but on Saturdays the rules are off; I drink as many cups as I have time for, and damn the consequences. Speaking of consequences, many of the members of my family usually watch what they eat, but Saturday breakfast is the exception to the diet. We laugh as Dad orders strawberry French toast with a side of bacon, then pats his belly after he’s cleaned his plate. “Oh well, the diet starts tomorrow,” he’ll say.

Breakfast each week has become a staple of our family routine, pulling us together after we’ve drifted apart over the past week. It’s an integral part of our life because the discussions around the table help us all to deal with the problems facing our country, most recently the sequence of violence around our nation and the world. We can’t solve the world’s problems over a cup of coffee, but a weekly meal with “the fam” sure does help us all cope.

Maybe the government should try it.


Photo By: DeLyn Martineau