It could just be because I was raised by a Swedish mother and grandmother, but coffee to me is more than just a caffeine kick. When I was young, Grandma would have her afternoon coffee like clockwork, and although I didn’t drink coffee yet, that time meant milk with graham crackers and frosting for me. We’d read the comics from the daily paper, puzzle out the word jumble, and then (after washing the frosting from our fingers) head to the piano for my daily practice. Those afternoons will always be a sweet, cherished memory for me.
Similarly, as I got older, my mom would also come to make coffee a part of our relationship. I struggled a lot with depression in college, and I remember that sitting at the kitchen counter with Mom over a cup of rich, dark coffee was one of the most comforting things in the world. Later on, whether I was upset due to a broken heart, a bad grade, a stressful boss, or getting ready to move across continents, Mom would say, “Well, let’s have a cup of coffee and sit together.” It wasn’t the caffeine that worked the magic; it was the feeling of comfort and support that I grew to associate with a steaming mug that somehow made everything seem just a little bit better.
It still works! As I’m writing this post, I’m sitting in my favorite coffee shop on Bar Ilan campus. My mom isn’t here and neither is Grandma, but I know that if they were, they’d order a coffee right along with me and sit down to talk things out. I know there are people who say coffee is bad for your health (just as there are those who argue the exact opposite point), but regardless of whether it’s coffee, tea, or cocoa that you drink, just the little act of setting aside time for a comforting cup of something is a wonderful way to support yourself in difficult times. My favorite is to get out of the house and sit amongst people I don’t know while I sip my coffee, but if you’d rather save money, sitting at home in a comfy chair with a book and your mug is equally as pleasant.
Maybe you don’t have the memories I do that are associated with a little thing like coffee. That’s okay! As you sit in your decided-upon place, cupping your steaming mug, you can remember that I’m here and I’ve got your back. We may not know each other personally, but I can assure you that I am rooting for you, and perhaps just knowing that someone out there is linked to you by this little act of drinking coffee can be a small comfort. Take care of yourself this weekend, this week, and every day!