Sometimes I wonder if I spend too much of my time looking back. I certainly don’t believe in attempting to live in the past. But I am convinced of the importance of taking the best of your past with you as you take on the future.
Professional speaker and businessman Jim Rohn calls it “drawing on the equity in your life.” We all have accumulated some valuable equity along the way – lessons learned, valuable experiences, moments shared, memories of people we have loved and people who have loved us – little pleasures.
All those things help define who we are and what we have become.
Staying in touch with our pasts, I believe, is a stabilizing force in a world marked by increasing uncertainty. Sometimes it is refreshing to experience a warm, safe feeling. I find that quite often in recalling a good memory.
Someone who knows me well treated me to an unusual gift this past Christmas. It was a basket filled with some of my favorite things – all attached to a memory. There was a pound of real country sausage, a wedge of rim cheese, an R.C. Cola in an original bottle and a Moon Pie, a jar of honey, a half-gallon of apple cider, a jar of olives, a pint of molasses, a bag of roasted peanuts in the shell, two vacuum-sealed center slices of real country ham and two cans of sardines.
Now, as you might imagine, I didn’t eat those delicacies all at once.
As a matter of fact, I have taken my time. So far, I have stretched Christmas 2020 into February 2021.
I finished off the country sausage by New Year’s Day. It took me back to a time when we worked up fresh sausage on the kitchen at hog killin’ time. We had a small meat grinder, which clamped on to the edge of the kitchen table. My mother ran a ton of pork through that little grinder. She would throw the red pepper and sage into a batch and fry up a sample.
“Not enough sage,” I heard her say many a time, or “too much red pepper,” she would exclaim. I think that sausage was the best I ever tasted.
The rim cheese lasted until mid-January. The R.C. Cola and Moon Pie are long gone. I picked a fine, sunny afternoon to savor that combination.
I took my time and sipped that R.C. slowly. It took me back to 100 places and just as many faces. I spent an hour over that R.C. Cola and Moon Pie. It was time well spent.
I broke out the molasses two days ago. Just before I did, I baked a sheet of real buttermilk biscuits. Having placed a big pat of real butter in the center of a plate, I laid on the molasses. As I worked the thick, amber-colored delight into the butter, it began to turn a golden caramel color. The color was just right.
There is an art to combining the right amount of molasses with the right amount of butter. The late country comedian and storyteller Jerry Clower allowed that you had to test the molasses and butter by dragging half of a cathead biscuit through it. If the molasses and butter pulled the middle out of the biscuit, you had it just right. I can’t testify to that, but I can tell you that I ate some more butter and molasses on the day I baked those biscuits.
If you haven’t eaten any molasses and butter lately, I suggest you try some. Of course, some people call them ‘lasses, as in “pass me them ‘lasses.”
And they eat ‘lasses and butter, or if you prefer, butter and ‘lasses. Any way you size it up, it’s might good eatin’.
A few days back, I worked up a batch of sardines with chopped, boiled egg, chopped sweet pickles, diced onions, yellow mustard and mayonnaise. With a splash of Louisiana Hot Sauce, you can’t pay a higher compliment to a saltine cracker.
I haven’t eaten the country ham…yet. But I will.
When I was a boy, I started many a day at my Granny Lena’s breakfast table. Back then, she would let me drink coffee. The closet thing she had to cream was Carnation Evaporated Milk. That’s what I used to cream my coffee. It gave coffee the most unusual taste.
When I eat that ham, I may have coffee with Carnation Evaporated Milk in it.
It looks like I could be celebrating Christmas all the way up until Easter.
Jack McCall is a motivational humorist, Southern storyteller and author. A native Middle Tennessean, he is recognized on the national stage as a certified speaking professional.