It’s Christmas Eve, and I’m sitting in a Waffle House.
Apparently, I’m not the only one who likes to eat at the greasy grill on holidays.
Half of the town is here, including my friends Neil and Lynn Weathington.
“I’ve been coming here after attending a church program on Christmas Eve since 1991,” says Neil joyfully. “Lynn has joined me since we first started dating, and we haven’t missed a year. I think it’s safe to say it’s become a tradition.”
While my wife is busy baking her third cake in less than 24 hours for our larger family gathering and my youngest son Henry’s birthday tomorrow, I’m here waiting on our takeout order. I couldn’t have picked a better night to sit at the counter. The short order cook is working wonders amidst the chaos.
“One hash brown scattered, one hash brown scattered and smothered, two eggs over medium, side order of sausage, side order of bacon,” the waitress calls her order over the sounds of the jukebox playing a Dolly Parton Christmas song.
As soon as the server finishes her order, another one shouts to the cook—“Two sides of sausage, one side of country ham, two waffles, one order of toast with no butter and two hash browns scattered.”
I’ve lived long enough to see some amazing things (and I don’t use that word lightly).
Let’s start with the circus. That dude who used to stick his head inside the lion’s mouth was either crazy or needed the money—probably both. Years later my wife and I would go see a Cirque du Soleil show and I’m still speechless from watching the acrobatics, tumbles, twists and turns of each performer.
I’ve even seen some amazing things while growing up in Carrollton. My friend Gil McGinnis once was so double jointed he could wrap both arms behind his neck flip flopped to the other side and choke himself (you’d have to see it to believe it). He’s now a Methodist minister.
And, of course, my friend we called Cabbage in high school could drip saliva from his mouth during lunch, attach it to an English pea and retrieve it quickly back into his mouth like a toad. That was clearly a gift from God.
Here I am again sitting in total awe. The Waffle House short order cook isn’t missing a beat. I don’t think I’ve seen him look at a single scribbled order the servers have attached above the grill, and he’s doing something I didn’t think was humanly possible as a man.
He’s actually listening to women.
Furthermore, he’s actually doing what they’re asking him to do, and isn’t complaining one bit.
Sorry folks, the world is not coming to an end. We are not in the midst of the apocalypse as we enter 2022.
Besides, if you look up the origins of the word apocalypse, it actually derives from the Greek translation “apokalupsis” which really means “unveiling.”
“When things are ‘unveiled,’ we stop taking a whole lot of things for granted,” writes Richard Rohr. “That’s what major events like the COVID-19 pandemic do for us. They reframe reality in a radical way and offer us an invitation to greater depth and breadth—and compassion. If we trust the universal pattern, the wisdom of all times and all places, including the creation and evolution of the cosmos itself, we know that an ending is also the place for a new beginning.”
So here we are again — another new year. The great unveiling is alive and well as we continue to learn more about ourselves, our family, our friends and the world around us. I’ve tried thinking of some resolutions to target in 2022, but all I really need to do is be more like the folks working at the Waffle House — to serve, to listen and be kind.
And every now and then, maybe it’s OK to be more like the folks who are here dining — to splurge on good food.
In case you were wondering, I ordered the Texas Patty Melt platter.
Happy New Year!