Every now and then, out of the blue, one of my siblings in the Southland will send a text to everyone, inviting us to “remember that thing…” I do it too, and it is frankly pretty fun to just cascade in the past for a while, recalling those unimportant, but memorable things that bound us as children to each other. The Cross family really was more an organization – that happens when you are functioning in a household with 9 or 10 members. It’s especially so when it seems somebody or another had a “big idea” about some thing to do, and of course, a majority of the others observed it, and then adopted it as their own.
Yesterday we texted about childhood cereals. As we wrote back and forth, one important binding element was clear: sugar. We had Frosted Flakes, Sugar Pops, Sugar Smacks, Froot Loops, Captain Crunch, both plain and with Crunchberries, and tons more. Even the Raisin Bran made sure that they sold the cereal with sugar coating the raisins – because they weren’t sweet enough? We even recalled Cocoa Krispies, which were a sweetened, chocolate version of Rice Krispies, onto which we added more sugar to sweeten things up. That also helped us all remember that when we were handed a box of cereal that professed little or no sugar, like Corn Flakes, Wheaties, Shredded Wheat, or Cheerios, it was a simple matter of pulling out the yellow Tupperware sugar holder, with the silver sugar spoon, and loading out however much sugar we “needed” or could actually put on the cereal before Mom would notice how we were nuclearizing the “healthy” cereal. The milk served as the binder for it all, which, when the bowl of the cereal was emptied, we could then swig down the super-sugared slurry of milk left over.
Now, it’s not that we were sugar-deficient, whatever that would look like, and fortunately, none of the nine of us had juvenile diabetes – it’s just that we all really liked the taste of over-the-top sugar. I also find it interesting that, unlike the claims today that when you gave kids lots of sugar, they would go ape and become hyper and race around and tear things up, we did not respond that way. The breakfast was the breakfast, and after loading up on the sweet stuff, we just merrily went on our way into the day. Now, perhaps Mom would remember things differently, but I never recall the word, “hyper” ever being used. Of course, whenever it appeared the energy in the house was growing to unacceptable levels, which meant that sooner or later, someone would get into a squabble with someone else, Mom – and Dad, too – had the wisdom and the voice to tell any and all of us “Knock it off – just go outside and play for a while.”
They knew that when we opened the back door, the house would decompress a bit, and there was room outside to exist and even play together without being in each other’s “space.” Outside activities meant riding bikes, searching for toads, or other important tasks we needed to do before going back inside by nightfall.
But the cereal’s memories remain. I even recall in 1965, on a Monday in July, that we woke up to a quiet house, and a note from Dad that read something like, “You all have a new sister – her name is Amy. Here’s some cereal for breakfast…” And the “cereal” was the holy Grail: A Kellogg’s variety pack of little boxes of cereal ready for the taking! I’m not sure, but I would guess we were more excited about than adding to the clan…
I don’t eat much cereal these days. I probably should, and be able to eat it in a way that’s healthy, although I’m not sure there is any healthy way to scarf down a bowl of Captain Crunch…
No, most of these days, if I have breakfast at all, it’s made up of a couple of pieces of toast, or an English Muffin, or even, when I feel reckless, a package of Pop Tarts, which is basically sugar sweetened cereal is a brick form. Actually, what I have been having lately are eggs. I really do like eggs – always have – and actually, although I enjoy cooking and adding all sorts of things to eggs when it’s Saturday or Sunday, and Cheri and I are fixing a nice breakfast, so there is ham and cheese, and maybe onion and bacon on the side and some toast and even going so far as hash browns, on most weekdays, I’ll just grab the smallest fry pan, drop some butter in it to melt, and then crack some eggs when it’s hot, and use a silicon spatula to mix them all around – sort of an in-pan scramble. It works well.
After they are cooked, I slide them on to the plate, and pull out the Red’s Hot Sauce, and liberally offer it to the eggs. It’s a simple plan, and a simple life, but it tastes good, and until I hit that particular dozen eggs that we buy that appear to be a bit burpier than the others, I keep up on the daily eggs pretty well.
Just a little lesson in egg buying, if you don’t know the secret by the way: when you buy a dozen eggs, on the end of the carton, it will give you a date to buy them by. The secret is, that date means nothing at all. Instead, look at the rest of the end of the carton, and you will see a three-digit number, just sitting there. That’s important. Those three digits tell you the date that the eggs were actually put into the carton. So, if you found a carton that had eggs put in it today, it would be 069, for March 10th, the 69th day of the year. Now, normally it will be a couple of days before it shows up at the store. Still if you can find eggs that are only four or five days in the carton, they are pretty fresh! Of course, most folks don’t look for that number, and sometimes I have seen eggs that have been in the carton three weeks. Nope.
Anyway, those are the memories about breakfast – not much value as far as information goes, but I just think it is a critical part of our lives, and our living, to intentionally recall even the little stuff, the trivial stuff, the unimportant things about growing up, or going through times in our lives. Imagine what we will have to remember when all of “this” is over. Enjoy your day, and take time to think back about those things you remember from childhood that are particularly sweet – like a spoonful of sugar on bowl of cereal…
Quote for the day: When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too. Paulo Coelho. Don’t you wish sometimes that you had thought up a quote that you read of another person? This one is particularly profound to me. Imagine and consider that when you put in the effort to become a better you – not a different you, but the “you” you were truly intended to be by God – that the entire world around you becomes better as well. You have that kind of profound effect on your world. Enjoy the day.
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.