The wise old man was the only customer in the burger joint Christmas Eve until my wife and I arrived after Christmas Communion. He was having a great big burger with a large container of fries with what appeared to be a milkshake. He waved politely as we walked through the empty and most redundant maze to place our order to the impatient staff, who really didn’t want to be there. I waved back and called out, “May we join you?” His reply was a sweeping gesture, indicating the chairs at his table.
When we arrived at the wise old man’s table with our spicy chicken sandwiches and soft drinks in hand, he was very quiet. I discerned that he was waiting for us to say the blessing before he talked. So I prayed, “Father, thank you for this food. And, while we are here in the midst of all this bounty, keep us ever mindful of the needs of others. Amen.” He repeated the Amen and took a hearty bite from his burger.
As he chewed, I observed aloud, “Man, you look fit as a fiddle. How do you eat the way you do and stay so trim?”
“Well Dan. . .And Jacque,” he replied meditatively, “about the only time we seem to run into each other is on a holiday of some sort. I eat well during Christmas, on my birthday and when I’m on vacation. In fact, I have made up a little ditty about my diet that you may find useful if you are really interested. From the looks of you, you should be interested. Not you, ma’am, I mean Dan.”
“We’d love to hear your ditty,” Jacque said, ever interested in dietary data.
“Eat nothing fried and nothing sweet. Never have too much to eat. You may cheat without hesitation on your birthday, Christmas or vacation.”
“But, you are a Southerner, aren’t you?” I queried.
“Yes, dyed in the wool.”
“Well, then, how can you live without fried food?”
“I just look forward to vacation, Christmas and my birthday. I always have fried catfish, fried okra, fried potatoes, fried hushpuppies and fried pies on my birthday. When I’m on vacation, I go to buffets and pig out aplenty, large quantities of fried chicken, cobbler, potatoes, you know the drill. Christmas is my main time for sweets. My mother used to make divinity every Christmas, so I try to find that delicacy. She used to put a pecan half on every piece and that’s the way I like it today. I’m also very fond of pecan pie, and I usually eat a whole one either on my birthday or Christmas day.”
Jacque said, “We have a fresh batch of homemade cinnamon rolls at our house and some pumpkin pie. Would you like to come have dessert at our house, since it’s Christmas Eve?”
“Thank you kindly, ma’am, but my bus leaves in half an hour. I’m fixing to go visit a lady friend in Plano. I think we are fixing to have turkey and all the fixings.”
Daniel G. Ford, Ph. D.