Surviving Table Fare At The Family Picnic
by James Snyder
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The best thing about any picnic is the food. After all, what would a picnic be without food? Picnic food is different from the normal table fare you might expect at home.
People will accept things on the picnic table that would never be accepted on the dining table at home n things like bugs, insects, including ants, mosquitoes, and obnoxious relatives, who have the ability to bug the dickens out of everybody.
At very low moments in my thinking I have pondered why God created mosquitoes in the first place. For the life of me, I cannot think of any good reason for their existence. God may have his reasons.
When I get to heaven, I plan to corner Noah and grill him on the subject of “why didn’t you swat those two mosquitoes?” He may have a perfectly good reason, but on this side of eternity, I can’t think of one. He had a golden opportunity to rid all of humanity of this annoying little critter.
Of course, a thought just occurred to me. Maybe Noah swatted another critter a hundred times peskier than the mosquito and we’ve never known about it. Perhaps, there were a hundred such pesky critters, the mosquito being number 100 on his list and he only got down to number 99. Instead of complaining about the mosquito he did not swat, I should be grateful for the 99 other critters that he eliminated.
Once a person gets beyond all those pesky elements of a picnic, he then can settle down to the main attraction, which is the food.
At our annual family reunion picnics, several relatives always bring what they call their “specialty item.” The rest of the family calls them other things, which are not printable in such a fine publication is this.
First on the list of these “specialty items,” is dear old Aunt Louise’s surprise salad/casserole/meatloaf n we never quite knew which it was or what to call it. Every year people queried her about the recipe. Aunt Louise, however, kept her secret recipe guarded until the day she died.
Several things about this dish of hers caught our attention each year. First of all, it was always different. No two years did it ever taste the same, or even look the same. I, along with the other more thoughtful members of my family, had suspicions about this recipe. Everyone knows that a casserole dish hides a multitude of sins.
The great thing about this “specialty item” was it could be either the entrée or dessert depending on when it was put on the table. Nobody ever knew what it was or what to call it; we just referred to it as Aunt Louise’s dish.
Then there was Uncle Howard’s homemade bean “whatever-he-had-at-hand” soup. This too was a closely guarded recipe and Uncle Howard went to his death with the secret, or maybe because of it, we never knew which.
Uncle Howard often called it chili. Everybody else, behind his back of course, called it everything but chili. One spoonful and it was obvious he had never seen or tasted real chili in his life.
The good thing about Uncle Howard’s “specialty item,” was it stuck to your ribs ... your stomach ... your small intestines ... and everything else it happened to touch, for months at a time. It was not biodegradable, but Uncle Howard was.
While I’m on the subject of picnic food, I cannot overlook Uncle Henry’s homemade root beer. Nobody in our family was prouder of anything than Uncle Henry was about his homemade root beer.
Not only was he proud of it, but he always made gallons of it and insisted everybody drink their fill of it. One sip and I had my fill of it, I assure you.
It’s hard to describe his homemade root beer. It tasted like carbonated lye soap, and the taste stayed with you for months. Every time you burped, there was a soapy burning sensation in the back of your throat, which eventually came up through your nose burning any hairs you might have.
Picnics, however, are not just about food. Food is a big part but there is another side to it. That side of course, being the people ... your relatives. I suppose it’s possible to go off by yourself and have a picnic, but what fun would that be.
One thing about our family picnic is that we always had a balanced meal, especially if Aunt Rhoda showed up. There would be Aunt Rhoda on one side of the picnic table and 17 nieces and nephews on the other side.
There was that incident one year when one of the nephews got up to go to the bathroom. It was the first time anyone saw Aunt Rhoda with more food on the outside of her than on the inside.
Coming together for food, fellowship and fun is what family is all about. It’s also what the family of God is all about. Just as there are quirky people in our families, so there are quirky people in the family of God.
When we get together, we always remember those quirky relatives. I’m not sure if we love them in spite of their quirkiness or because of it.
The apostle Paul put it in perspective. He wrote: “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6: 2 KJV.)
Fair or foul, there is nothing like family.
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