Upon waking this morning, I was pleased as punch to recall that today is one of my most favorite days of the year – better in some respects even than Christmas or my birthday. After all, who in this busy modern age is not thrilled to have a 25 hour day, the precious gift of an extra 60 minutes with which to do as I please.
So, what will I do with that extra hour, granted so graciously by the governor of time (whoever that might be)? It’s always a quandry, albeit a pleasant one, and I sit in my living room chair watching the sun rise across the way, the delicious scent of freshly brewed coffee wafting toward my nostrils, a novel by one of my favorite authors perched on my lap, and think that an extra hour of reading couldn’t be a better way to spend that time.
But despite my new novel and the short story collection I’m about to crack open (plucking one from the huge selection as one might choose a chocolate from a box of Valentine’s day candy) I’m not thinking about reading per se as much as I am about reading rituals. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about…the times and places in which we indulge our reading habit, the little habits that accompany our reading pleasues, which somehow mysteriously evolve into rituals nearly set in stone.
Personally, I’m a slave to my morning reading – well, I’m a slave to my bedtime reading too, and each has it’s own ritual of completion. Certainly there is no morning reading without coffee, and I often find myself leaning against the kitchen counter, book in hand, waiting impatiently for the hiss of hot water to finish, slow down to a gentle trickle, and then stop, signalling me that the dark, aromatic brew is now ready for pouring. So, mug in hand (either the barrel shaped Italian porcelain mug I found in a bargain shop, or the tall, slender Dunoon stoneware painted with one of Monet’s waterlilies surrounding it) I head off to my favorite chair.
Chairs are all important, aren’t they? We’ve known that ever since Golilocks made her advernturous journey through the Three Bears house. I have a couple of favorite reading chairs, one of which is where I’m sitting right now. A big, overstuffed chair alongside my living room window, one that has room for a little white dog to nestle at my side (or perch along the top just above my head) and an ottoman with space for the other to curl companionably at my feet.
I set my alarm clock early, so I have at least half an hour to read each morning. This peaceful reading time is as necessary to my well being as the shot of insulin for the diabetic – if I miss it for some reason, I feel slightly “off” and the entire day goes awry.
In all honesty, I don’t know how or even when this ritual developed. I remember as a child that I read through breakfast each morning, sitting at the kitchen table with my parents and grandparents, and I recall my father’s words on the morning of my wedding day as I walked in with newspaper in hand.
“Do you think I could see your face at breakfast just this once,” he asked, “since it’s your last day at home?” after which I immediately burst into tears and ran from the table. <smiles>
When my son was a tiny baby, I recall taking him into bed with me in the morning, hoping for a few hours extra rest. Occasionally, I could nurse him back to sleep, and he would lay nestled into my side while I propped my book open just behind his tiny back, straining my eyes to read in the dim early morning light, but fearful of turning on the bedside lamp in case I should wake him. When he got a bit older, I remember propping him up against the pillows and reading to him in the morning, something that quickly became a ritual, as these things so often do with children, our little bookstack growing by leaps and bounds until there were about 13 picture books that must be read (at least once through) every morning.
These reading rituals appear to evolve and change over time, don’t they? based on our circumstances and the pattern of our lives in general. The ability to read in peace and quiet each morning is quite a luxury, and I enjoy every minute of it. On this particular Sunday, I have an extra 60 of those precious minutes to savor. What could be more lovely?
Now tell me, what are your reading rituals and how have they changed during your life?