Even with the prevalence of the internet, many people in America still have a favorite print publication. Maybe they look forward to perusing Better Homes and Gardens, Golf Magazine, or Reader’s Digest every week or every month.
However, I don’t have much time for better homing or gardening, golfing or digesting reading. But there is something that I am in interesting in digesting: food. And that brings me to my favorite publication—the supermarket circular.
It has everything the homeschooling father of nine children could ask for: dazzling bright colors and illustrations, subtle cuisine suggestions, and alerts for money-saving specials. And that last quality—the ability to save me money—is what I find so endearing; it is what catapults it to the top of my reading list.
Because it lists the sale items, it dictates what food I will be buying that week, and consequently, what we all will be eating that week. My children have grown accustomed to looking through it to see what delicacies they will be enjoying for the next seven days.
“The new one is out,” I’ll gleefully announce to my kids as I triumphantly walk through the front door, flyer in hand.
“How was the circular this week, Dad?” Tarcisius will ask.
“How was it? It was pithy. It was moving. It had a twist of irony reminiscent of the best works of O. Henry, being that ice cream went on a terrific sale during Lent.”
I understand that it is the rare person who sounds romantic when speaking of discounts on food and beverage; it might seem odd to compare flyers with the great works of literature. I’ll grant you, a supermarket circular can lack some of the humor and warmth of the great American storybook, and character development is largely nonexistent.
Fine, it’s not Moby Dick. Yet, at this stage of my life, I am much more interested in sales on fish sticks than I am in white whales, and Cap’n Crunch is much more a part of my life than Captain Ahab. In some ways, it’s not a fair comparison: these flyers offer a payoff that goes well beyond mere poetry or prose.
The circular is also my way of staying abreast of the latest happenings in my world. As far as current events go, while others may turn to Fox News or Politico, I turn to the circular. I don’t feel required to have a firm intellectual grasp on the geopolitics of the United Nations, but when hot dogs go on a two-for-one sale, ignorance of that fact is a luxury that I cannot afford.
And since this column has come to be known as a go-to source for great Catholic parenting ideas by a small yet distinguished group of otherwise normal people, I feel compelled to offer a suggestion. Recently, as I was speaking with my good friend Jim Shanley in the frozen food section, we talked about the concept of a new kind of club. As many people are aware, Catholic reading clubs are very popular in America right now. Maybe Catholics are sitting down to discuss the Narnian allegory in the works of C.S. Lewis. Maybe they are discussing The Lord of the Rings in an effort to extrapolate some Christological element in Tolkien’s novel.
Wonderful pursuits, no doubt. However, I propose not another book club, but a circular club. The way I envision it is that a bunch of parents get together for potluck snacks, each bringing something they purchased at a minimum of a 40% discount (we’re players after all, not pretenders). It would be sort of a show-and-tell exercise that melds genius with gelato.
It’s an opportunity for a entrée of Christian fellowship, a pinch of camaraderie, and a dollop of braggadocio. The parents would form into a semi-redundant semi-circular pattern, and go around the room exchanging comments like: “I got this pack of Oreos for $1.99, and a discount on a gallon of milk to wash it down. Here’s how I did it.”
Somebody starts that club, and I’m in.
I’ll bring the reading material.
Oreo Cookie Shake © Brent Hofacker / Dollar Photo Club