By Jack McCall

In keeping with tradition, on New Year’s Day I ate black-eyed peas and hog’s jowl. When I was growing up we called it “hog jaw.”

It doesn’t really matter what you call it. It’s good! And I’m here to say it must be good for you.

They say it will bring you good luck if you eat black-eyed peas and hog’s jowl on New Year’s Day. I purchased my hog’s jowl in “the piece” on Dec. 31, 2017. Once I bought it, I couldn’t wait until 2018. I hand-sliced it with a sharp carving knife, cutting little notches in the skin so it would not curl while it fried. I ate hog’s jowl on New Year’s Day and beyond. It’s good when it’s hot, and it’s even better when it’s cold.

I fried so much I had a cup of grease left over after the second day of cooking. I asked my wife Kathy if I could add it to the bacon grease we keep for seasoning other dishes. She gave me permission. (I was going to add it to the bacon grease whether she agreed or not.) That was some fine grease.

Across the Miles
Jack McCall

Eating hog’s jowl takes me back to my boyhood days. My mama always matched up fried hog’s jowl with fresh fried corn or cream-style corn out of a can. I ate a whole can of cream-style corn while I was on my hog’s jowl binge this past week.

I know. I know. You cholesterol fanatics out there are gasping in horror as you read this. But know this. If it kills me, I died happy.

As to whether or not the black-eyed peas and hog’s jowl will bring me good luck, it matters not. I was never much of a believer in luck. Good fortune – yes, but luck – I’m not so sure.

Someone once said, “The harder I work, the luckier I get.”

It seems to me that what we often refer to as “luck” (I am speaking here of good luck, of course) is more the result of wise decisions, hard work and right living than anything else.

And, yet, I constantly catch myself wishing someone, “Good luck!”

Maybe we should recognize good fortune and “good luck” for what they really are: blessings.

When asked how they are doing, a few of my friends will respond, “Better than I deserve!”

That holds true for most of us – most of the time.

My plan was “to hit the ground running” in 2018. Well, here I am, and I haven’t managed to work my way up to a good trot so far. I need another week to get ready for 2018.

In my younger days we used to joke, “Getting ready to get ready is harder than getting ready.” As this year begins, I’m still in the “getting ready to get ready stage.”

But I have decided one thing. I’m going to keep it simpler in 2018. I’m going for less fun and more joy – which means I’m expecting 2018 to be harder for me than 2017. It’s a choice I am making.

I had a rather eye-opening experience a few years ago while traveling south on Interstate 59 in southern Mississippi. I met a car going the wrong way on my side of the freeway. Now that will get your attention! I looked out ahead, and here it came!

I took to the right lane and the driver of the oncoming car took the left lane. My first reaction as the car flew by was to pray for the people coming behind me!

I have often reflected on that southern Mississippi experience.

Seems I meet a lot of people these days who are headed the wrong way. It’s a broad way, you know. And many of us know where it leads.

The other way is hard and narrow, but it leads to life.

I believe where there is life there is hope. And where there is life it is never too late to right your ship.

So, as 2018 begins to unfold, I will wish you well, but I will not wish you “good luck.” I will simply offer this blessing:

“The Lord bless you, and keep you; The Lord make His face to shine upon you, and be gracious unto you; The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.”