Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Living the Good Life

The other night at a party a friend half my age sat down by me, and when I asked how he was, he said, “I’m living the good life.” An unusual response from a man the age of my children, so I asked him what he meant. “My family and I have our health. We have roof over our heads, a pretty nice roof, and we have more to eat than we ever possibly could. And my wife and I have good careers.” I agreed with him: the good life.

I have long been aware that by his standards I too live the good life, but I’ve often taken the thought further in my mind. Why am I living this blessed life when people are losing their homes to horrendous wildfires? When people in Syria are dying, caught between warring armies? When people in Africa are starving to death? Did I go through those trials in a previous existence and work my way up to the good life? I don’t exactly believe that the Lord chooses some of us to live in almost luxurious comfort while other endure endless privation and hardship. Sometimes it makes me feel more than a little guilty, and it spurs me on to give—what I can financially and in service and goods. But none of us can ever do enough. The thought is in the foreground of my thinking as we prepare for yet another family Christmas.

I certainly was living the good life today. Went to a breakfast potluck for the Book Ladies, a group I’ve belonged to for at least thirty years. Usually we meet once a month at the Old Neighborhood Grill, but today we were invited to a member’s home. We had our meal in a wonderful solarium that was festively decorated for the season, and we dined on wonderful dishes—green chile egg casserole, cheese grits, a cake, sausages, fruit—and we had a book exchange, one of those were you could “steal” a book someone had already chosen.

I went from that wonder almost directly to a Christmas luncheon with two friends. We went to Rise, the restaurant new to Fort Worth but known in North Dallas for its souffles (and for being a favorite of George and Laura Bush). The Fort Worth incarnation is almost a carbon copy of the Dallas restaurant and, I suspect, the one in Houston—heavy, ornate wooden doors, a massive centerpiece that tables are gathered around, and glassed-in porches (quieter and my choice for a meal).

Ordering soufflé leaves you lots of time to talk while the souffles cook. The menu says, “You may wait on your soufflé, but your soufflé won’t wait on you.” Betty and I had creamed spinach soufflé, while Jean had a southwestern chicken. We split a sweet raspberry soufflé for dessert—two sweet for me, and too much soufflé in one meal. But we had a wonderful time.

I came home besotted and sluggish—a nap cured me, but I resolved for the umpteenth time to eat modestly over the holidays.

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