A week before Thanksgiving my pastor, Brian Leverett, sent a churchwide message about the approaching holiday. He invited us to text him a brief recording about things we are thankful for. The short clips were to be compiled into a video for further sharing.
I promptly decided to procrastinate, a technique I’ve become adept at through years of practice. Thanksgiving is now in the rearview mirror and the radiant light of the Christmas Star is at its yearly peak. It won’t be long until 2020 is left behind as the midnight band plays Auld Lang Syne. The time has passed to submit the video Brian wanted, but it’s never too late to reflect on life’s blessings.
There are several reasons I didn’t get around to making a recording. One factor is that the camera on my phone causes my hair to look thin and gray. I’ve had this phone for a while, so hopefully the newer models have resolved whatever technology issue this may be. The uncanny thing is that Jane’s phone camera does the same thing. It’s baffling how a kid like me sometimes resembles a senior citizen.
The main reason for my procrastination, however, was that I couldn’t decide on what to say that was more personal than generic. There’s much in the way of broad topics for which I am thankful. Faith, family, friends, health, and freedom come quickly to mind. But I wanted to say something more specific, so I delayed for a while and just now got around to starting a list.
One thing I’m thankful for is that my mother, who recently turned 94, is still making biscuits. If someone tells you that frozen biscuits are just as good as homemade, don’t believe them. Those are the same people who claim yogurt tastes like ice cream and serve stuffing instead of dressing. They rave over seven bean salads and broccoli casseroles. Some have even experimented with tofu.
Special circumstances, I will acknowledge, may cause bought biscuits and those made from scratch somewhat challenging to differentiate. I learned that at a noontime get-together hosted by the late Murphy Head a couple of decades ago.
In addition to keeping a few cars on his lot, Murphy had a furniture store packed wall to wall with new and used items. About twice a year he’d invite eight or ten friends to join him for fried rabbit. I guess you could say there was a hare in our food. We’d sit around showroom tables and enjoy mounded plates of tender meat with grits, gravy, coleslaw, and biscuits.
Joe Smith, a part-time employee of Murphy’s, did the cooking and consistently served outstanding fare. It was at one of those dinners when Joe’s biscuits, always excellent, were even better than usual. I complimented him as we were eating and wondered aloud if he’d used a new recipe. He didn’t have much to say in response and seemed a bit grumpy, which struck me as odd.
As I was about to leave, Joe was cleaning up the small kitchen area. I told him again how much I enjoyed the meal. “Everything was delicious,” I said. “Those biscuits may have been the best you’ve ever made.”
Joe’s manner was rather subdued. He didn’t look up from the stovetop he was cleaning as he replied. “They were bought biscuits,” he mumbled.
That’s when I noticed a stack of Styrofoam trays. There was a sinking feeling in my gut for a split second. But then, perhaps by divine intervention, I found a glimmer of hope to escape an awkward situation.
“Well, Joe,” I said, “it must have been your special gravy that made the biscuits taste so good.” Joe nodded and offered a forgiving smile. And I left Murphy’s place that day with a story and a lesson.
I had planned to include several things for which I’m thankful in this column, but I took a detour on a one-lane road and decided to enjoy the scenery. Maybe I’ll expound on other blessings later. Meanwhile I’m thankful for the thousands of biscuits my mother has made. Lord willing, I’ll have two more tomorrow with melted butter and pear preserves.
Happy belated birthday Mama, and Merry Christmas too. I’m glad you’re enjoying your gift. Let me know when the supply gets low and I’ll bring another bag of White Lily self-rising flour.
Wonderful article this morning Neil. I love it when you lose control of your story and it leads you. Your stories have provided a consistent positive diversion in this strange year of 2020. Happy New.Year!
More biscuits please….Merry Christmas to all the Joiner’s….
Nothing better than Mama’s biscuits!!
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Merry Christmas Neil. I have enjoyed every column you have written and look forward to another year of them. Keep up the great work.
Another entertaining story! Wishing you a very Happy and healthy New Year!
I have always used white lily flour too: as it is in my opinion: the best on the market; but my sainted Mother always swore by “Sunflour” flour. She used their meal also; but it was spelled “Sunflower” on the meal sack! Go figure.
Cinnamon and I love biscuits and it shows!!!!!!!!!!! You’re too young to remember Tennessee Ernie Ford, but he liked Martha White Flour!!!!!!!!!