I watch the classic Jimmy Stewart movie every year about this time, but I don’t need Clarence the guardian angel to remind me that I’ve had a wonderful life. When I was growing up in the little mill village of Porterdale, wearing the same pair of overalls every day and digging for doodle bugs under the house, I could never have dreamed of the places I would have been and the roads I would have traveled by this point in my life.
I have received many awards and honors. Doris Nevels and I were named "yummiest" freshmen by our school newspaper, "The Ram Speaks." That is not to be confused with "The Ram Squeaks," which was a satire of the school newspaper published by a person who shall remain nameless. His initials are Mike Lassiter. Honesty compels me to admit that I don't know what makes a freshman "yummy," but if the honor was bestowed upon Doris Nevels, I'll take it as a compliment.
In college I got a commendation from UGA President Fred Davidson for not driving away from the scene of the crime when I drove a university van full of basketball players into the side of a Lincoln Continental in Charlotte, N.C. We were in a hurry, because we were headed to see the Jackson Five in concert, but I waited for the proper authorities.
Once upon a time in galaxy far, far away I was voted Teacher of the Year by my peers, and another time I had the school annual dedicated to me. They call them "yearbooks" now. I have a basement full of coaching awards and trophies, and I was once named "Person of the Year" by the Joseph Wheeler Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. I ain't making this up, y'all. I was. And one time, in Sitka, Alaska, I was chosen from an audience of almost 40 people to go up on stage with two long-legged saloon girls to dance the Can-Can.
I told you. I have lived a charmed life.
But of all the plaques and trophies and citations I have received over the course of my lifetime pale in comparison with the award I received this week -- or will receive, as soon as my youngest daughter, Jenna -- Queen of the Eye-roll -- gets by the UGA Food Services office to pick it up.
Once she does, I will be the proud owner of a "Taste of Home" commemorative plate that is being bestowed upon me by the executive director of Food Services at the University of Georgia, hallowed be thy name -- the incomparable J. Michael Floyd. While the rest of this column has been written with my tongue firmly in cheek, I am completely sincere when I speak of my admiration for Mr. Floyd and his staff. As I have said before, he is simply the best there is at what he does -- and he has a plethora of awards of his own to prove it.
For the uninitiated, once each semester the UGA food service hosts a special event for the students called "Taste of Home," in which they replicate favorite family dishes submitted by the students' parents. The parents whose recipes are chosen receive the aforementioned commemorative plate as a keepsake. All of my children and all of my money go or have gone to Georgia. They have all consumed thousands and thousands of delicious and healthy calories provided by the award-winning UGA food service and now -- finally -- one of my very own recipes will be featured at the fall semester Taste of Home feast on Dec. 1.
In case you are wondering what delectable dish of mine Mr. Floyd chose, and even if you aren't, it's one of my favorite tailgate entrees from my "Southern Eatin' Cookbook," called "900 Miles South of Buffalo Chicken Wings."
It's a Southern cookbook -- get it? So we couldn't have plain old Buffalo wings because ...
Oh, never mind. If I have to explain it, you won't get it anyway.
Another perk of having my recipe chosen is that Mike Floyd sent me a copy of my recipe extrapolated out to feed a multitude of people -- instead of the eight or 10 folks the original recipe is meant to serve. In the spirit of the season, I will share the recipe with you.
First you make the sauce by melting 134 pounds of butter and mixing it with 12 gallons, 2 quarts and 1 cup of Tabasco sauce, 9 pounds, 67 ounces of paprika, 2 pounds of salt, a pound of black pepper, 15 ounces of red pepper and 2 gallons of Worcestershire sauce. Stir well.
Next fry 2,150 pounds of wings to an internal temperature of 165 degrees and toss the wings in the sauce.
Now, you, too, can make my wings for 5,000 of your closest friends. And thank you, J. Michael Floyd. You have made my day, week and year. Let the Big Dawg eat.
Darrell Huckaby is a local educator and author. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. For past columns, visit www.rockdalecitizen.com or www.newtoncitizen.com.