When I was a child growing up in Central Florida, one of the ways that I saw the Sabbath as special would be from enjoying a particular crumb coffee cake that my family would enjoy on Sabbath mornings and no other times (at least that I can remember). I have seldom been someone who can eat a lot of breakfast (since it usually takes about an hour or two of being awake and alert for me to have an appetite in the morning, and those are conditions that rarely exist in my life, where I am awake two or more hours before having to do something). Yet on Sabbath mornings, even though my family was among the earliest families at church because my grandfather ran the information table (something that also made us among the last to leave, another habit I have kept up in my adulthood ), there would be enough time to enjoy a hearty breakfast, and I remember particularly enjoying the coffee cake we would have.
I was reminded of that yesterday evening because in my shopping for last night’s dinner after work, I happened to pick up on a whim some apple coffee cake (nowhere near as tasty as the crumb coffee cake I enjoyed as a kid though) from my local grocery store. Since I am a person of rather particular habits and patterns of behavior that are hopefully amusing to others (seeing as they are often quirky), it often puzzles me just how enduring our own particular habits are, and to explore that a large part of our fundamental makeup, even decisions as trivial as what kind of Sabbath treat to purchase on the afternoon of the sixth day of week on one’s way home, is programmed from very early ages through the behavior of one’s family. It seems as if we never lack for behaviors that serve to make life a little less alien no matter where we go (which accounts in large part for my love of sweet tea and bread, two of the happier reminders of my youth).
One of my guiding assumptions in looking at life and those around me is that the past is useful to study, even if it can be immensely painful, because it can help us explain who we are and how we got to be who we are, and how our world got to be the way it is. The combination of personalities and historical forces and family histories and personal compulsions shapes not only my life but those of everyone around me. Sometimes the results are entertaining or pleasant, such as enjoying a crumb coffee cake on a Sabbath morning. Sometimes they are decidedly less pleasant. All the same, though, as we are human beings who must share this world together, the very least we could do for those we are around is to show some graciousness and take at least a little bit of time to think and reflect on what makes us (and others) the way we are. To the extent that we are aware of the burdens of forbearance and longsuffering that we expect of those around us, we may show that same graciousness in our own conduct to them, along with stopping by every once in a while for a tasty slice of coffee cake before we rush off to our busy days.
 See, for example: