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Judy Whitehead: Our lives are enriched by our daily routines

My husband and I have a weekly ritual that we perform every Sunday – grocery shopping in the early morning. We have been doing this for many years.

With our work schedule, which starts in the early hours, we are often tired in the evenings and need to veg out on the couch. So we have found that a quiet Sunday morning is the best time to shop for food for the week.

Once a week is enough for me to enter a grocery store. If we forget an item, oh well, we will get it next week.

We have found that many others have the same ritual and we have begun to make friendships with those we see so often in the same place, the same time, every week.

The people who run the deli, the fish market, the meat counter and other kiosks in the store have become familiar faces. We converse with these employees every week. It’s nice to frequent a place where people know your names and likes – kind of like a neighborhood bar like “Cheers.”

The timing has to be just right on Sunday morning. If we come too early, the meat and fish counters have yet to put out the fresh items. The matzo ball soup is not ready until 10 a.m., and the produce is not always loaded until around that time.

However, if we are delayed in going, just one hour can change the whole picture. The store takes on a different face after 11 o’clock. Strangers fill the aisles, and shopping is no longer peaceful.

People are in a much bigger hurry after that time, and many are just running in for a few items, making it a more stressful situation.

There is no more chatting with the friendly staff after that hour; the goal then becomes to move the customers along.

Many mornings a week, my husband and I stop for a bagel and coffee on our way to work. We frequent the same place and, once again, the staff is familiar with our order and food choices.

The “breakfast” people are always there at the same time, as well. These familiar faces are no longer strangers – we now strike up a conversation with them. We even have our same seats that we choose. Talk about predictability. When we become comfortable with a certain routine, we repeat it many days.

Most of us become repetitious in our ways. Whether we are young or old, we seem to repeat the same acts every day and get into a comfortable groove that fits our lifestyles. Familiarity does bring some sort of comfort to people. Occasionally we get crazy and mix up our schedule, but we enjoy returning to our routine.

We travel a fair amount, and we enjoy the change, but we are always happy to come home.

We celebrate and bring in the new year with the same people every year. It is both a ritual and a tradition that we are lucky enough to spend our special events and milestones with the same group of people.

We have lost some of those who have joined us over the years, but we still venture on with new additions to our group while cherishing the past years that meant so much to us all.

We plan to continue our rituals as long as possible, and look forward with hope and optimism that 2016 will be a peaceful and healthy year for us all.