Restaurants have changed a lot these days. It used to be that when you visit a restaurant, you will be given a seat or you seat yourself, and then you are handed a menu card from which you can see all the different types of menu: salad, soup, appetizer, entrée, desert, side dishes etc. If you happen to visit a much sophisticated restaurant, you get the chance to pick all sorts of stuff. All of this on a menu card. In some upscale restaurant, the menu card comes in a folder. In that folder is the meals and even the types of drinks that they offer. Wherever you find yourself, you may pick the meal you so desire.
But there’s been a change-not much change though. This change is a result of COVID. It just so happens that this time, at some restaurants, they no longer provide you with a menu card, you simply have to take a picture of a QR code with your phone, the menu pops up on your phone, you check the menu and then decide which one you want.
But what would he have been left with if he had taken a picture of a QR code with his phone fifty-six (56) years ago? I wonder if you will still be using the same smart phone you are presently using in 2027. So, what was that one tangible thing that took him back to the day when both he and his wife committed themselves to each other in holy matrimony?
I once visited a gentleman. He is a widower. When I arrived, he was holding a large maroon-looking old folder. I didn’t know what was on the pages of what he was reading. But I could tell by the look of his face that he was really enthralled by what he was looking at. We started a chat the moment he welcomed me. And the conversation took us in all kinds of different directions.
During our chat, he kept the folder on his lap with his hands gently placed on it. In the midst of the chat he asked if I knew what he was holding when I walked in. How would I know? I asked myself. ‘I am afraid I do not know.’ I responded.
He then tells me that it was the menu folder from their wedding day, fifty-six (56) years ago in a swanky upscale restaurant. Who in heaven’s name keeps a menu folder of his wedding day dinner for fifty-six years? I asked myself. Apparently, the father was a man of little means, but he was so proud of his son that he treated him, his new wife and eight guests to a wedding dinner at that restaurant.
The gentleman stood up and meticulously laid the folder on a couch and opened it for me. I saw all the different menu that was offered at this restaurant. And what I found most surprising was that the most expensive food was $6.75. You can’t even get a decent meal for $10.00 today. I couldn’t believe what I was looking at. I was completely blown away.
I was blown away, not because of the prices of the food. No. Rather, it was about the fact that the gentleman was holding on to a piece of history, a treasure that reminded him of so much. He was holding on to a menu folder that reminded him of his love and the day that love spoke to him with words so beautiful and reassuring that he has found every reason under the sun to hold on to love’s memorabilia. More to the point, it reminded him of the special day with the special people he has loved all of his life.
I didn’t ask him why he’s kept the menu folder for so long. It wasn’t like the restaurant still existed or that he intends to go back and visit. I didn’t have to ask because I felt I knew why. That may have been the only piece of a tangible object that connected him to the day and brought him closer to the people that he’s loved all his life.
As I walked away after our visit, I wondered how many times he’s actually looked at the menu folder. I wonder how much comfort that offered him. Life is such that often times we are left with nothing to hold on to but the ordinary things in life. Ordinary things which evoke as much meaning as any extraordinary thing you can imagine. Ordinary things which can tell an equally powerful story as any extraordinary experience.
This joyful Eastertide, what are you holding on to? What’s your kind of menu card that evokes such memories, tells your love story and brings back to life those wonderful moments of yester year?
Whatever memories that you share with others, whatever menu folder that you keep, Easter’s invitation is to hold on tight to it.
That may not only be the most comforting treasure you possess, but it may be the closest you can get to touch that beautiful and wonderful story.