LETTERS FROM THE NEST: The most important meal

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As a child, I enjoyed many a breakfast with my grandparents. 

I can remember sitting on large books or catalogs as a child to boost myself to the round, wooden table to enjoy whatever sustenance Gran placed before me to fuel my school day. What I loved most is how elegant my grandmother could make any place setting; she is still privy to this skill today. She would prepare in the early morning hours before the sun rose to set the table for my grandfather, with his coffee cup, a spoonful or two of instant coffee already measured inside, his grapefruit, sliced to perfection and his cereal or oatmeal. 

We would watch the news together, then part ways to school and work. When I grew to high school age, I would ride with my grandfather to school, but we would always stop at an early morning locale—the Rainbow Restaurant. He just had to have one more cup of coffee before the start to the day. As an angst-filled teenager, I remember thinking this was so odd: what was so great about coffee anyway? 

So, I would stare at the random pictures on the paneling inside the quiet restaurant while my grandfather chatted with old folk and young men just coming off of the graveyard shift. 

Smoke would billow from amber glass ashtrays while ladies in gingham aprons would just keep the coffee coming and the eggs over easy in abundance. Once we would finally arrive to school, my morning had been filled with at least two breakfasts. 

So, when I opened my cabinet this morning to find that we were out of coffee, I almost panicked. As an adult, I recognize that this is like a true morning necessity. 

All we had was this small container of instant coffee in the back of the cabinet, nestled in between drink mix and gummy vitamins. 

But it took me back—straight back to shiny silverware, clinking coffee mugs, his laughter, his smile, his pocket protector. Those mornings had nothing to do with increasing his caffeine intake. Nay, it was about sharing a kind word, encouraging others, taking the time to simply sit and chat. My grandfather recognized the importance of gathering around a table, whether it be at home or a diner. Words are shared, dreams are birthed, hearts and cups overflow. And my grandmother was always right there by his side, making breakfast beautiful, one elegant place setting at a time. 

A.A. Milne once wrote: “When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?” 

“What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?” 

“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet. Pooh nodded thoughtfully. “It’s the same thing,” he said.

So, wherever you drink your morning coffee, eat your cold bowl of cereal or nibble on your pastry, slow down and share a kind word with those around you. If I could turn back time and go right back to that diner with my grandfather, I would in a heartbeat.  But I would take cream in my coffee, and take good notes. It was definitely the most important meal of the day.