I just got up from a dinner meal that I cooked for my hubby and myself. It consisted of meat and a side. (There was a dipping sauce for the meat but I would never count that as a side – only a compliment.) Somewhere in the middle of the meal I realized that something was missing. To qualify this as a good old- fashioned balanced home cooked meal, we needed at least two more sides.
Every meal that I had growing up was a meat (always fried) and at least a trinity or more of side dishes – peas, butter beans, corn, potatoes, okra, squash. The meat dish could be chicken, fish, pork, beef (always fried) but occasionally my mother served something she called salmon croquettes. These were mostly bread crumbs mixed together with canned salmon and then – fried. Still it counted as a meat.
At our table, the meat was the CEO and the vegetable sides were the hard-working VP’s, which served their master well. Each person at our table helped themselves to a little of this and a little of that and wound up having a delicious, hearty supper. Because my parents kept a well-stocked “deep freeze” of produce and a variety of meats, we ate pretty much the same foods year round. (Oh yeah, there was cornbread, too. Fried.) The only variance to these menus happened seasonally – the time of year when there was something fresh from the garden every day. My mother, then, would add to the already full table what she called a “relish tray”. There was not a bit of relish on the tray, as one thinks of relish, but it was a white oval platter with sliced cucumbers, spring onions, and bell pepper strips. Another whole plate was dedicated to sliced fresh tomatoes. These were like delicacies that we could somehow suddenly afford. Treats. Something good and rare.
I miss the balance of a meat-and-three and not just at mealtime. I miss when we watched TV in thirty-minute increments (with commercials) and always at the same time each day of the week and same time of day. Nowadays we do what’s called binge watching. With On-Demand, Netflix, and such, we can bury ourselves in an entire season of a series without moving from our Lazy-Boys. If we must move to refresh a beverage or do the other thing, we can pause the show, do our business, come back, and pick up exactly where we left off. Or rewind to catch a nuance that eluded us the first time.
Even our buying habits have gone binge. Thanks to Sam’s and Costco we can “stock up” with enough toilet paper, dog food, and mop heads to last us through a nuclear holocaust and then some.
Balance. That’s what I miss. Small tastes of lots of little things. Doses of work and leisure that make me feel as though I’ve done them both enough and done them both well.
Balance. It’s a concept I do not want to ignore just because I now have technology and the big-box stores to do so. I want dabs of this and teaspoonfuls of that throughout a day, a year, a lifetime. This might take discipline on my part. No, it will certainly take discipline.
And then sometimes I want to enjoy a tasty bite or two from a fresh relish tray.
2 Timothy 1:7 “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”