Reading and Writing and the Occasional Recipe: Sunday morning: starting the day, getting the news

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Reading and Writing and the Occasional Recipe

Sunday morning: starting the day, getting the news

Sunday, July 29, 2018


It’s been my observation that, no matter how adventurous and flexible we are for lunch or dinner, most of us start our day with a habitual breakfast, a daily go-to. Or maybe one of two or three options. In fact, if you’re like me, you begin with a specific set of ritual activities: exercise (ok, not so much me), eat breakfast, check email, take in the morning news in our preferred format. And on a Sunday morning, when nothing much is planned, having two newspapers waiting for me feels luxurious.  

Of course, there’s ritual to the reading, too, beginning with the New York Times’ Sunday Styles, where some of the day’s most profound questions are considered. Some, in fact,  have stayed with me over years. There was a correction, once, to a wedding announcement in which the bride’s alma mater, contrary to what had been printed, either was or was not Boston University. The memorable part, though was the fact that the correction appeared, as I remember, some 15 or 20 years after the original announcement. What could the backstory possibly have been?  I thought the Times was remiss in not addressing what they must have known would be the question in everyone’s minds.

What is sure to remain in my mind from this Sunday and last are examples of the kindnesses and cruelties, macro and micro, that we visit upon one another. Last week’s Vows (for non-devotees of Styles, the Vows feature is a lengthy item focused on a specific wedding) was a perfectly decent-sounding couple, looking happy and appropriately celebratory. In the tiny sidebar that lists date, place, etc., was the fact that only one parent of the couple attended: the bride’s father had died some years before and the groom’s parents, upset that he was marrying out of their religion, chose not to attend.  

When I read that I thought, not only of that sadness and smallness, but of the huge joy of attending the recent weddings of a niece and of a nephew which were joyously so multi-ethnic that they may have spawned glass-breaking in some Latino weddings that followed.

One of my favorite parts of Styles is the Social Qs advice column by Philip Galanes, whose words are unfailingly kind and insightful. Sometimes snarky, sometimes funny, sometimes a little reprimanding, but always empathetic. This week there was a letter from a 16-year-old who had come out to her family and found them all to be totally supportive except for her younger brother. Reading it aloud to Dr. D., I cried a little over Galanes’ encouragement, wise counsel, and above all, kindness.

And today, the “Modern Love” essay was a remarkable study in humanity in the face of inhumanity. The author,  a young man from Yemen who was held in Guantanamo for nearly half his life, learned, from fellow prisoners and one fence-breaching iguana, how to be a loving person. Now free and living in Serbia, he hoped that what he had learned would allow him to be a respectful, considerate, generous husband and father at some point in his life. To read about someone who had his life derailed in such an extreme way who could still be committed to being a loving person….well, what other section of the paper could have had more important news today?

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