Some people travel. Others shop. I go out to eat.
Not by myself - at least not usually - but with my friends and family. Today, for example, I'm meeting my parents and my sister for lunch in Lancaster. Tomorrow will bring my morning Starbucks crew and lunch with my third grade teacher friends at Parma.
The food (and beverage) is actually extraneous, a mere catalyst for conversation and camaraderie at a time of day when most of us would be breaking from our usual activities anyway. And, since I'm not a big fan of cooking, I'm even more appreciative of the effortless satiety provided by my a lunch-on-a-budget get togethers.
I have friends who don't take these breaks, citing work obligations that tether them to their workspace or place of business. Three squares a day, food pyramid and divided plates aside, I think this is an unnecessary deprivation. I understand that their jobs are demanding and that some in power frown on activities as frivolous as lunch, but a break for human contact is nourishing on so many levels that it seems counterproductive not to take advantage of it. Many of these people don't eat breakfast, either, declaring their lack of sustenance as a badge of honor, proof that they are so dedicated that they're willing - eager, even - to lay down their lunch for the sake of productivity. I wish I could take lunch, they declare. I just don't have the time.
I would argue that lunch increases productivity. Lunch breaks up the day, and lunch with friends re-charges me so that I have the energy and desire to do something more than take a nap at 2:00. Admittedly, too much lunch can make that afternoon nap all the more tempting, but so can skipping the opportunity for good food, good company and a good laugh.
Now, more than ever, I relish (no pun intended) these get-togethers because they keep me connected to the people who matter to me. When I was working full-time, I appreciated them in a different way - sometimes as a respite from the busyness of the day, and sometimes as that rare opportunity to just sit and talk, even if only for a little while. There were days when I was working when lunches alone were a sanity break, and sometimes that is still the case, but these days, I much prefer lunch with friends.