We had great picnics in our community when we were young and times were simpler. It was one of the highlights of the summer when tables would be set up in someone's backyard and neighbors would show up carrying in dishes with lots of delicious food. A flatbed trailer would be brought into the property and local musicians would play into the late evening. Kids would be running and chasing. Baseball would be played. Even if a rain shower would happen to appear, die hard picnic-ers would ignore the downpour and keep eating.
The other day when I was having lunch with my sister and niece at a local Italian restaurant, A group was seated next to us. In such close quarters, it's hard not to overhear some of the conversation at adjacent tables, and the conversation between the table and the waiter was charming.
Waiter: Good afternoon. I am George and I'll be your waiter for today. Can I start you off with a beverage, or some wine. Is today a special occasion?
Man at Table: (hesitating slightly, as if trying to come up with a reason for celebrating...) Well, we are here with our friend. (You could hear a smile in his voice.)
I thought - with a sense of cynicism in my mind - well isn't that just lovely. Still, the more I thought about his response, the more I thought that the man wasn't being facetious; he was honestly trying to come up with a special event reason for dining out. I felt convicted of being so cynical and realized that the man seemed to have an honest appreciation of their reason for being there.
How rarely do we see such daily events such as eating out to be so special? We seem to have shrugged off the aspect of something being special and now just settle for living with the assumption that it's all so commonplace. I still remember the first time Mom took me to a hamburger fast food restaurant called Burger Chef after having gone to the dentist's office. It was in a time when "fast food" was new and unusual and the food tasted different from what Mom seemed to tirelessly provide. I'm pretty sure she had a hamburger, too, but it was the idea of eating outside the home with my mother that made the time special.
As we get older, I guess it's normal to think about past times, but as eating out has become as common as pumping one's own gas - yes, that used to be special, too - the special-ness of the event has been lost. I appreciate the reminder of this patron's comment - and need to remember that all events of getting together with family and friends are special events. In fact, we need to see ALL things that we consider common as special; they may in fact be the last time we enjoy such events. Wisdom would wants us to make them special.