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September 5, 2013

MAY: Let them eat funnel cakes

— Will this be a day you celebrate or a day you endure?

For some, celebrating just doesn’t ever seem to be a choice. Circumstances and people seem to be the negative shackles that weigh and bind.

Finding a way to celebrate is crucial in providing hope and balance. Oprah Winfrey has said that “the more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.”

When celebration becomes a choice, the question then turns to what will be celebrated and how it will be celebrated. Morality and discretion should dictate our choices.

Rather than reveling in someone’s loss, personal accomplishments and circumstances should be acclaimed. Celebration to excess can lead to many of the “seven deadly sins.” As Jimmy Buffett sang in his song, “Fruitcakes,” “there is a fine line between Saturday night and Sunday morning.”

As we lead into the weeks of festivals and celebrations throughout the area, we are taking a few weeks to look at how and why we celebrate. Last week, we discovered that celebrating is certainly not a bad or ungodly thing.

To the contrary, God’s kingdom is described as a feast or party. He is seen as one who creates and pauses to celebrate his accomplishments. But how do we praise and celebrate life?

If your house is like mine, food has always been a chosen path of celebrating. Meals around birthdays and holidays draw families together. Food has provided the foundation for many dates.

Whether grazing through Thanksgiving or tailgating before the ball game, food provides the basis for memories tied to events and rejoicing.

Perhaps because eating truly is my spiritual gift, the headline of a recent column in The Wall Street Journal was more than just icing on a cake. In response to the hysterical crusade by New York City’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg against super-sized sodas, Journal author Ron Rosenbaum wrote, “Listening to the doctors on cable TV, you might think that it’s better to cook up a batch of meth than to cook with butter. But eating basic, earthy, fatty foods isn’t just a supreme experience of the senses — it can actually be good for you.”

While I might not be that bold, the headline did make me smile: “Let Them Eat Fat.”

According to the delish.com website, Americans do just that, especially at fairs and festivals. The site recently ran a story highlighting the top 10 most unusual foods served at festivals.

The Indiana State Fair secured two of the top 10 spots, with deep-fried Twinkies and a sausage, pepperoni and cheese stuffed-crust pizza dough flattened to form waffle-style ice cream cones ... no doubt garnished with Pepto-Bismol sprinkles.

California’s chicken-fried bacon took the top spot in the Delish list, while Texas’ deep-fried Coca-Cola captured my attention. Fried Coke is actually Coca-Cola-flavored batter that’s been deep-fried and drizzled with Coca-Cola syrup, whipped cream and cinnamon-sugar. I wonder if they would make it with Diet Coke … I am watching my weight.

While things we celebrate, the ways we celebrate, and perhaps even the amount of fatty food we consume while we celebrate are important, let’s never forget how vital it is to celebrate — and how food can play an incredible role in the festivities.

Every fall to celebrate Veterans Day, my grandfather would pick up his grandson and they would ride the bus from Plainfield to Indianapolis to participate in the annual parade. Halfway to downtown, they would stop at the corner of Tibbs and Washington streets to sit on the seats that spin at the counter of the Steak ‘n Shake restaurants.

A 70-year-old white-haired man and a 7-year-old brown haired boy, spinning. A flat, square burger prepared on a hot grill before your eyes. Skinny little french fries. A chocolate milkshake.

And a memory that is celebrated 50 years later.

— Tom May is the Minister of Discipleship at Eastside Christian Church in Jeffersonville. He is an adjunct instructor in the Communications Department at Indiana University Southeast.

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