Last night, my wife and I enjoyed leftovers with our children. After Thanksgiving, such gifts abound, so we enjoyed soup made from Thanksgiving's leftover Turducken. Some salad also lingered, so we enjoyed that as well. The boys ate some sausage sauteed with onions and peppers, also leftover from last week.
Leftovers have issues, of course. They're not fresh and new. It's not fresh cooked, swirls of steam eddying up from the pot in which they simmer for the first time. Usually the leftovers have been warmed in the oven or the microwave. Little bits stick to the sides of the pan, like barnacles unwilling to let go. Leftovers usually end up as a heap, a mash of sorts on the plate, the original presentation all but lost. Sometimes, perhaps oftentimes, leftovers don't seem all that appealing.
Yet leftovers are familiar. You've eaten this meal not a few days before. It was great then, if it's not the best food you've ever eaten now. It was made with love, but reheated by familiarity, by need, by constancy. Thus, the benefits of leftovers. They are familiar. But leftovers also tend to be more flavorful. The spices have permeated the food, leaving traces and hints of flavor here and there as you eat. Oftentimes the leftovers lose some toughness (not that any of my wife's food is tough), and they fall apart even better in your mouth. Leftovers have much to commend them.
Yesterday was also our wedding anniversary of seven years. For some reason, the leftovers seemed fitting. I felt guilty for not arranging something more fitting, for not taking her out on some exquisite date and movie, or whatever it might have been. "Here we sit eating leftovers," I thought to myself. And then I realized how blessed I was, to be eating leftovers, with my children and my beautiful wife of seven years.
There are times when exquisite meals are needed. Anniversaries often do need the special flare, the special mark to set them off as something particularly important, opportunities to express our relationship in ways we may not be able to other times of the year. But sometimes, anniversaries just need leftovers. Sometimes, we need to be reminded that marriage, while cemented together by the gift and command of God, lives in the leftovers, the spices permeating the food of life. Marriage can't always be five-star meals. Marriage can't always be going here and there and doing this and that to "keep the spark alive." Sometimes, we need the constancy and familiarity, the same meal again, to remind us of the stuff of marriage.
This doesn't always seem appealing, especially when the realization first hits. It's like seeing the unappetizing leftovers when you first approach the table. Sadly, many take the opportunity to leave the table and not come back. They never experience the delight of familiarity, the trust of constancy, the knowledge of steadfastness, in the face of something that only appears unappetizing. They never sit down and taste the flavor of the stuff of marriage, the leftovers. They never have the opportunity to appreciate flavors arising from having spent some time in the fridge, from the reheating in the oven a second time. It may not look like much, but the taste is flavorful and familiar. And there's much to be said for that.
So for me and mine, we'll continue to enjoy our leftovers.
Happy Anniversary my Beautiful, and thank you for the leftovers.