When I think back to my youth, like all of us, I have thousands of warm memories of family, laughter, vacations, and fun. Like most children, I believed I lived in the most wonderful place in the world, that I attended the best school, that I had the best family, and that the world was this warm, wonderful, perfect place. I guess you probably guessed that, like Scout Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird, I too learned that everything isn’t always as it seems, and that the world can be warm and wonderful but can also be very harsh, cruel, and often indifferent.
However, when those delightful waves of innocent nostalgia do wash over me from time to time, it is difficult for me to recall a special memory from my childhood that does not include my cousin Michael Farmer. Michael came to spend many weekends and summers with my grandparents each year. Two and half years separated us, and Michael and I were, in the infinite words of Forrest Gump, “like peas and carrots!” We played outside for hours until the sun went down, caught fireflies, went swimming, played in the creek, rode bikes, ate watermelon by flood light on hot July nights when our feet were as green as the grass from wearing no shoes for weeks on end. We attended Bible School, played the piano, went to the beach together, but mostly we giggled. We giggled about everything, and if there was nothing to giggle about, we made up silly stories or words and the giggling would continue. We annoyed our adult relatives, but we always had fun, and we never argued, never fought… we just fed off of the other’s energy and silliness. We were the best of friends.
And…well…life happens, paths take lives in separate directions, and sadly, I don’t spend time with my cousin as I once did. However, Facebook has helped us reconnect a bit, and I am grateful for that! I miss the confidant of my youth, but I am grateful for such wonderful memories we created together, and I hope with great sincerity that we will have the opportunity to make more memories together.
Last week, Michael emailed me with this cheese ball recipe. Since we spent every Christmas holiday together until I was about 15, I wanted to post his holiday cheese ball recipe and take a moment to recall what an integral and special part in my life my dear cousin played.
From start to finish, this recipe will take you approximately 15 minutes.
2 pkgs. chipped beef, chopped (separated)
2 (8 oz.) pkgs. cream cheese
1 tsp. Lawry’s seasoned salt
2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 bunch chopped green onions
Combine all ingredients, except one package of the chopped chipped beef.
Form into ball, roll in remaining jar of chipped beef, and refrigerate.
Serve with good buttery crackers or Wheat Thins.