“Yes, Sir… No, Sir… Excuse Me… Please… Thank You…”
Common courtesies once interwoven into the very fabric of our society are now looked upon as antiquated, even misguided, conventions.
With the onslaught of extremisms in maintaining equalities, a person has to be careful not to inadvertently offend by the niceties of holding a door for someone or politely standing and waiting until all are seated.
Collectively ceasing to expect these minimal social contracts of civility has minimalized the necessity to teach our young to see the varied needs of humanity: to take small steps of kindness to all those in our personal realm of influence.
Because mankind once was expected to adhere to the small steps of gentility, mankind was already moving in the direction of rightness with the world and those around him.
Special weeks of anti-bullying indoctrination now compensate for the lifestyle that once was expected by all; a common love and daily concern for all of mankind.
Rumblings of trepidation commence with the onset of so many holiday family gatherings.
Gone are the carefree days of unadulterated rowdiness of play and feasting and laughter. Now the constant nuances of whispered conversations plague each encounter: what was said…or more importantly… what was not said. Judgmental expressions instantaneously follow the arrival of each invited guest and ‘the who’ that might be accompanying them this year.
No-longer-heard are the voices of those that have passed on … as well as of those, never named, who have absconded and disassociated themselves from familial relations … All are perceptibly silent.
O’ for the days of yore… when the sumptuous feasts were mind-boggling; there was shoulder-to-shoulder grappling with out-of-state cousins that had just been wakened a few hours ago to be whisked away for a multi-hour car trip to see the distant relatives; and friendships that were instantly renewed and unfathomably unforgettable from one long awaited summer to the next.
But time does not mellow all things. Not all seasonings are easy on the palate.
To be child-like again. To see the world through the eyes of unmitigated trust and unblemished innocence.
But that’s the trouble with relatives… nostalgia is not truth.
(Written after a conversation with a friend in terror of holiday family reunions.)
Leftovers are not the delicious, sensuous, culinary delights of a well-prepared meal from yesterday. They are the spare, waste residue from which I did not choose to partake 24-hours ago; so why would I want to eat the residual remains today?
When I was living in a family of five and six, I didn’t like leftovers for a meal. Living alone: I like them even less.
I like to clean the ample, mouthwatering servings from my plate, place my bread-mopped dishes in the dishwasher, and be done with the meal. For the next outing, I want something fresh. I want something inspiring. I want something new.
Does that make me spoiled? I don’t think so. I am culinarily spontaneous … gastronomically adventurous.
Now, truth be told… I do not prefer the unexplored food factions. I am a meat-and-potatoes kinda guy.
He’s standing there again. Almost every Saturday morning we drive past him. Slickened-down hair. Crustily shaven. Standing hunched-over in his faded green Army fatigues. Waist-high is the same carelessly-crafted magic-marker cardboard sign, “I WORK 4 FOOD!”
Dad and I had just finished the magnificent all-you-can-eat breakfast-bar at Golden Corral. Lightly-browned scrambled eggs smothered in cheese sauce with five strips of crispy bacon and several spicy patties of German sausage. Blueberry-buttered pancakes too!
I wonder if he had breakfast.
I wonder where he slept.
It was frigid outside last night. It got so cold in my room that the dog snuggled against me and my pillow to get warmer.
I wanted us to stop and offer some kind of assistance… but is it safe? We have odd-jobs at home we could pay him to complete.
I’m not sure Mom would want him in our house. Or even want him to know where we live.
Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Human progress never rolls in on the wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be coworkers with God.”
My heart breaks for him.
But until a heart breaks and feet then move – nothing will ever change.
A Previous Classroom Assignment: Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration: LMS Writing Contest: 2013