The things we take for granted

Published 7:01 am Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Recently Donna Sue and I went to a Cracker Barrel restaurant for lunch and, even though it was 1:30 in the afternoon, a little late even for lunch, I decided to have breakfast. Breakfast is such a great meal, but most of us don’t have the kinds of breakfasts that, if truth be told, we would like. You know; all those eggs, bacon, country ham, biscuits, etc.

We know if we ate a breakfast with all those wonderful foods every day we’d all be big as the side of a barn. At the same time, every now and then, especially at a time other than early morning, like at night, it is great to have so-called breakfast foods. That was my thought as I sat down at the Cracker Barrel.

I decided upon Uncle Homer’s Smoke-House, Hen-House, Out-House, House of 48 different kinds of Flap-Jacks Deluxe Country Breakfast with all the trimmings. Hang the cost, just bring it on!

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It was described as the perfect breakfast for the man what had already done a day’s work.  “Come into Mama’s kitchen after you’ve unloaded a barn of tobacco, hitched up the mules for a day of plowing the lower 40, milked the cow, slopped the hogs, and took a nap right beside your favorite coondog, Ole Bulger.”

I had the option of four eggs cooked any way I liked. I ordered mine over easy and oozing yolk like the lava that just flows outward and down the mountain of an exploding volcano. Also, there was a minimum of eight slices of hickory smoked bacon and four smoked linked Dixie Dandy sausage patties, plus a half dozen cathead biscuits with a pint of sawmill gravy on the side and a big, ole bowl of Aunt Jemima’s grits! Now those was just the appetizers.

They also brought a jar of swine-time cane syrup and a fresh gob of Jersey-cow, fresh churned butter. I took my knife and cut off a bit of that butter and slathered it all over those grits. They were of just the right consistency with nary a lump. After the cow butter melted, I took my fork and eased it into those grits, brought them up to my mouth, blew on them so they wouldn’t burn my tongue, and put them in my mouth.

“My goodness,” I said to Donna Sue, “don’t they have any salt in that kitchen?” In spite of that cow butter, those grits were the blandest I had ever tasted.

“Pass the salt,” I said quickly and put a healthy dose of Morton “When it rains, it pours” sodium chloride on those grits and, then, tasted them again. “Mmmm, Mmmm, good!”

Afterward, I thought how just that little bit of salt on those grits and, later on those eggs, had made them taste much better. What if there had been no salt? It’s easy to take very small things, like salt, for granted; yet it was very important to the enjoyment of that meal. It is often the little things in life that we simply take for granted that are so important in our lives.

Of course it’s not just the little things we take for granted. This past Sunday, I spoke of how we take God for granted and there is nothing greater than He. Stop for a moment and think of all the people or things we take for granted.

Time, for instance. Many of us think that we have all the time in the world; we act as if we have the world by the tail and it’s ours to simply swing around and do what we want when we want. Where did we ever get that idea? It didn’t come from the real world. Time is one thing that we cannot create; we can use it more effectively, but we cannot make more of it yet we take it for granted.

How about our five senses? I opened with an obviously exaggerated story of the enjoyment of taste, yet people who have gone through medical treatments, like radiation or chemotherapy, or take daily pills will say that “nothing tastes good anymore.” I love the taste of food and I don’t need to take that for granted.

The same goes for seeing and hearing, touching and smelling. All during the year there are those smells of favorite flowers, of freshly plowed ground, of rain on the pavement, and one of my favorites: the sweet savor of steaks or hamburgers on a grill. Makes me want to follow that smoke, just like Wimpy would do in Popeye cartoons. “May I have a hamburger today for which I will gladly pay you Tuesday?”

There are institutions that we take for granted. Fifty years ago, we cherished the institution of marriage and the families that would result from decades of dedication to that institution. Marriages would always be between man and woman and families would always be a strong backbone upon which the country we love would depend. Did we take them for granted? Something happened!

Schools, hospitals, corporations, banks, the post office were institutions that might not have been perfect, but we worked with them and did not have adversarial relationships. We could have been a little naïve, but there was a level of trust that we probably took for granted.

As I have written many times, I am a hopeful person, an optimist, but I am also a person who underappreciates the blessings he has received. In my hopefulness, I aim to take a little more time recognizing those aspects of life, those people and things that are dear and precious. Although, I have had a great life, to appreciate those people and things will lead to an even greater life.

Here’s a quote I just read: “We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.”