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Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

Dec 16, 2022

One condiment in particular kept my kids alive.


There’s no ketchup in my house right now. I made burgers for the family Sunday night and we had no ketchup. This may sound trivial but it’s an extraordinary landmark in our family’s life.

When my kids were much younger, my wife and I relied on frozen chicken nuggets about five nights a week to feed the kids. Our four kids are two years apart with the last two being twins. Imagine dinner time with a six-year-old, a four-year-old, and two-year-old twins. It was pandemonium. We’d pop a cookie sheet full of nuggets into the oven. They were quick. They were easy and though they weren’t particularly healthy, they kept the kids alive until the next day which, at that point, is all we wanted. Chicken nuggets were our bread and butter. They were our life saver.

In time, though, the kids tired of them. We experimented with different brands, with different shaped nuggets. We learned that rib meat nuggets were too chewy and who knew chickens had ribs? And the kids were unimpressed by the dinosaur shaped nuggets.

We then told them they weren’t eating nuggets anymore. These were new. These were different. These were chicken nuggettas. They’re different and better and that bought us a little time.

Then we added a small dollop of ketchup on the side of their plate and…boom. The kids loved the nuggets with the ketchup. They wanted more ketchup. And more. Soon it became a plate full of ketchup with chicken nuggets somewhere underneath. I told my wife that the word KID was an acronym for Ketchup Infusion Device because that’s what the nuggets became.

We bought the ketchup at the warehouse clubs. Three giant bottles shrink wrapped together, wondering how long the ketchup last before we’d need more. We’d walk through the back door with the bottles of ketchup over our heads like warriors returning with the spoils of battle. The kids saw it and knew everything was going to be ok.

The kids liked chicken nuggets with ketchup so much that my wife and I began calling everything we cooked chicken. We’d have pork chicken, beef chicken, turkey chicken, each of which was served under ketchup. We tried weaning our kids off the ketchup but when food hit the kitchen table, they’d be looking for the bottle. We wondered if we’d gone too far but…they were eating and they weren’t complaining which, if you’re a parent, you understand.

If my kids were like trees and we could cut them in half and count their rings, their inner most rings would be made entirely of chicken nuggets and lots and lots of ketchup.

And then last Sunday night, I bring the hot burgers in from the grill and start putting the toppings on the countertop and…no ketchup. Not even the secret reserve bottle which we keep in the back of the pantry for emergencies. None. And when I announced we had no ketchup I braced for the blowback. Years ago, this news would have fueled an insurrection. Instead, they shrugged and fixed their plate.

My goodness, how things have changed, thank the Lord.

I’m Cam Marston and I’m just trying to keep it real.