Nine forty five at night. The freezer is calling my name. The fact that I had a delightful dinner out with friends earlier tonight means nothing. The ice cream hour is at hand. Nothing worth watching is on the television: I’ve already seen the morning coverage of the Tour de France and the British Open. Somehow “Fists of Iron” and “Burlesque” aren’t grabbing my attention, so I decide to read a book about a horse saved from the dog food factory. A little mix of Pink Floyd and my other recently purchased iTunes music will do for the background, for my classic rock station has grown so predictable, I know it will be Bon Jovi at 4:30 every afternoon. They need a new algorithm.
Why do I need ice cream at night, you ask? And at this particular time? It’s a family habit, for my Dad would ask “is anyone ready for a little ice cream?” And all us kids would answer as one, “make me some!” Dad would dish up heaping bowls and serve them as if they were on silver platters. We would eat them as if we had golden spoons, even if all we had was plain vanilla. After this, we put our empty bowls in the kitchen sink, washed our faces, brushed our teeth, and got our good night kisses as the lights went off in our rooms. When we got a bit older, we were allowed to stay up and read quietly before going to sleep.
Even when I went off to college, I needed a nighttime snack before bed. My dorm didn’t have a freezer for my ice cream stash, so I had to make do with a candy bar or cookies. These aren’t the same as that taste of ice cream before bed. Calories, yes, but not the texture or memories that come to the mind. When I was preaching, I ate large bowls of ice cream every night. That may have been one of the reasons I wore large clothes every day. That, and little exercise. I ate big because I was carrying big stresses. As a prediabetic, I have changed my diet and added more activity.
Now, I no longer serve a church as an active pastor: my ministry is in my art, my writing, and my kitchen. I still eat ice cream, just a coffee cup, rather than a bowl full. I’ve discovered that a 1/2 cup serving satisfies just as much as two cups does, and I don’t have regrets and remorse when I indulge. I can enjoy the smaller amount rather than deal with the recriminations and disgust I feel when this shows up on the scale. But having the connection to my family’s memories, of the time when we were all still under one roof and all of us were still living is precious to me. Perhaps that is why I answer the siren call of the ice cream when I hear it call my name.