Late Sunday, at my dad’s place on the far North Side of Chicago. Cold out, though warmer here than it has been recently, and there’s an inch or two of snow on the ground. Basically it’s a quick drop-in to see everyone post-Christmas: my brother John and his family are here from Brooklyn, and of course the rest of the family is rooted here in Chicago. The only thing notable about the flight from San Francisco, other than the fact I misplaced by boarding pass at the security check, was that it was the first time I’ve ever flown first class. That was the result of using frequent-flier miles at the last minute and discovering there were no coach seats available; but there were first-class seats if I was willing to pay for a few thousand extra miles to get one. So I did, and wound up getting a round-trip first-class ticket for a couple hundred bucks. There actually is a difference from coach. Lots and lots of leg room. Identifiable food. Refreshing hot towels. Actual glasses and dishes. Free alcohol, though it was a morning flight and I wasn’t inclined to avail myself of that amenity. I betrayed the fact I was a first-time first-class flier when the meal came and I couldn’t find the tray table. The attendant had to tell me where it was. My seatmate, with whom I exchanged not a word the entire trip, couldn’t find hers either. Maybe another upwardly displaced person from the coach class.
That’s all, except to mention it’s St. Stephen’s Day, the feast of my namesake saint. Beyond the name, I was always taken with St. Stephen: First, because he is said to be the first Christian martyr; stoned to death, though I have no idea who stoned him, exactly, or what he did to start the rocks flying. I also always wondered how he wound up with such a plum calendar spot — the day after Jesus’s birthday, a near guarantee that people are going to remember your day if they care. Who gave Stephen the 26th, and what was the process? The answers are out there.