I grew up in a family of six with a single income from construction work, so dinners out were incredibly rare. We did sometimes go out for breakfast, but it was an intimate affair, always one parent and one child. On Sundays, usually my dad’s only day off, he would rise early and slip out of the house with just one of us for hot chocolate and greasy hash browns at the truck stop diner.
I remember those pre-dawn breakfasts as a luxury — not just the hash browns and white toast we never had at home, but the time with my dad was a treat. Lingering over one more cup of coffee, he told me stories he didn’t usually have time for, and I felt special, important, grown up, and loved.
Breakfast is still my favorite meal “out.” I love it and its late-sleeping, lazy, big city cousin, brunch, so I read David Shaftel’s headline in The New York Times, “Brunch Is for Jerks” and reacted with the expected outrage.
You killjoy! Who hates brunch?
As with so many things in life the problem isn’t with brunch itself but with the jerks who participate in it. Clickbait headline aside, Shaftel has a point…
Falling for “conspicuous consumption disguised as urbanity” is a problem. He implies that it’s a millennial problem, but we’re all susceptible to it. Consumerist culture says that if we buy the right things, eat at the right restaurants, pose in the right light, hang out with the right crowd, we can become the sophisticated adults we aspire to be, at least on Instagram. Taken to an extreme, consumerism turns even one’s circle of friends into a set of Pokémon cards to be collected and shown off. Ooh! I don’t have a communist poet yet. Better invite her to brunch!
So, what’s a girl who loves French toast and home fries and, gods help me, mimosas to do?
If brunch is the family meal of many young professionals, as Shaftel says, then the luxury of brunch is time, not money spent. Time to relax with your “framily” (my eleven-year-old’s word for our close friends). Time to linger over mimosas or one more cup of coffee. Time for real blueberries, not those weird purplish pellets that come in cheap pancake mix. Those luxuries don’t cost much, and they’re not things you can really show off. You might say they’re a little more breakfast than brunch: less fancy, more intimate.
If you’re looking for an excuse to make non-consumerist brunch a framily tradition, you might start with Waffle Day. According to a Wikipedia article I read years ago, it’s a Swedish holiday. I don’t know what they do to celebrate it in Sweden, but our version is an all-day potluck. I make scads of waffle batter, and everyone else brings toppings and sides and hammocks, and we linger. We indulge in the luxury of time. I won’t claim it’s terribly sophisticated, but I know it makes us all feel special, important, and loved.
And it reminds me to call my dad.