Every time we make a visit to the doctor’s office if my children are well behaved their reward is lunch or a snack from McDonald’s. On this particular day Spencer, my 6 year old and I had gone to the Doctor for a well check and stopped by McDonalds at about 10:30 in the morning for his early lunch before I returned him to school. Spencer found a seat that swiveled, the best kind for kids. We sat down and he started in on his French fries. Something obviously caught Spencer’s eye because he was staring at a table next to us. There sat an older gray haired gentleman playing solitaire right there in McDonalds. He had his coffee and a type of counting board, I am guessing to keep his score. It was like he was sitting at home at his kitchen table just playing solitaire. I looked at Spencer but his attention had already turned to a TV not far from him, TV’s at McDonalds what has the world come to?
Watching the man play the card game out of the corner of my eyes I was moved by his presence. Was he a widow or was he just trying to get out of his home and find a quiet place to play his game? It was as though nothing disturbed him, the TV droning on in the background or the customers coming and going all about him, he was very focused on his game. A little while later he put his cards away and left the table for a bit. I heard a worker ask him if he would like more coffee he stuck out his cup and she refilled it. He returned to the table with his breakfast and began to eat.
We are all creatures of habit. We rely on what we know we will do each day. We know when we will get up and where we will eat, where we will work and what we will do for the day. We tend to find comfort unconsciously in those rituals it’s almost as though it is safe and predictable when the rest world seems so unpredictable. We can take comfort in what we know and understand. I know that each week night I will have dinner at the dining room table with my family and without knowing it I look forward to that time together. I don’t enjoy cooking the food and preparing the table but I enjoy knowing we will sit and eat together. When we don’t get to eat together as a family a part of my day feels empty and lost. The comfort we all yearn for is somehow missing when we do not partake in one of our daily rituals. When we come home late from work or an appointment or arrive late to work or have to do something we had not planned for and our day is off by an hour or so it truly throws us for that day, it takes time to adjust to that change.
There is so much change in our lives that daily rituals help to comfort us. The older gentleman was in his own element, content and peaceful not worried what others may think. He sat alone among lots of customers playing solitaire and maybe that was his daily ritual. Maybe that is where he finds his comfort and security. Although he was alone and playing a lonely game he was surrounded by people and maybe that is why he does it, to feel the presence of family without knowing anyone.