The Clam Chowder Story
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“The Clam Chowder Story,” Ensign, Dec. 2005, 58–59

The Clam Chowder Story

Every Christmas Eve my wife serves my favorite dish, clam chowder. We added the chowder to our holiday traditions not only because we enjoy the taste, but because it reminds us of the Savior’s infinite love for us. After the last bite, we tell the clam chowder story, which happened years ago when our children were young.

It was a Monday evening, and I was on my way home from work, looking forward to a fun and relaxing family home evening with my wife and children. As I walked toward the back door, I anticipated the children playing nicely and dinner waiting on the table. Not so.

My wife, Joy, had arrived home just before I did. She had had a busy day, and now each of our children was trying to get her attention. As we began to sort out their needs, it seemed each had homework that had to be completed that evening. Joy was exhausted, we needed to prepare dinner, we needed to hold family home evening, and Joy had also committed to prepare clam chowder for 60 women who would attend the Relief Society luncheon the next day.

We divided up the tasks. Joy fixed dinner, I helped the children with their homework, and we held a short family home evening. I then put the children to bed while Joy started the clam chowder. The children were all tucked in bed by about 9:30. I walked into the kitchen, and Joy was busily preparing the ingredients for the clam chowder. The process is quite lengthy and somewhat tricky. The chowder must be constantly stirred at the right temperature, or it will burn.

Joy had to leave at 8:00 the next morning, so the chowder had to be finished that evening. I asked her if she would like me to help. She said she could handle it, so I went upstairs to work on my electronics course.

About 11:30 Joy came into the room with a small bowl of chowder. I was in the middle of soldering a part in a circuit board. When I looked up she was gone. There sat the steaming bowl of heavenly soup. I put a big spoonful in my mouth, expecting ecstasy. I was startled. I couldn’t believe what I was tasting. It was terrible! It tasted burned. Surely this couldn’t be. How could I tell my wife?

Gathering all my tact and courage, I went downstairs. She was sitting in the kitchen, looking forlorn and tired. I said as gently as I could, “Honey, there’s no way you can serve this. It’s burned.” She looked up and started to cry. “I hoped you wouldn’t notice. I was stirring and stirring, and all of a sudden I noticed black flecks coming to the top. I quickly took it off the stove and poured it into another pot, hoping I had caught it in time.” The tears flowed freely, and she looked hopeless. “I am so tired, it’s so late, and we don’t have any money to replace the ingredients. What are we going to do?”

I put my arms around her and told her she needed to go to bed. She said, “But I can’t. I still have carrots to peel and cut up.” I walked her to the bedroom. We had a prayer, and she got in bed. She was already asleep when I closed the door and headed for the kitchen, wondering what I could possibly do.

I grabbed the cookbook and looked for “burned milk products” in the index. Nothing. I even tried calling an all-night radio program that discussed all sorts of topics. I couldn’t get through, so I went back to the sink and peeled carrots. It was full panic time. I had done all I could do. Only one option left. I went into the dark living room and knelt down.

I felt a bit uncomfortable asking about such a trivial matter. But it was not trivial to Joy. “Heavenly Father,” I began, “I know there are many people with big problems. But I have no other place to go. I have done all I know how to do. This problem is very big to my wife, and that makes it important to me. She is faithful and tries to do all she is asked to do.” I took a deep breath. “Please, Father, take the burned taste out of the clam chowder before morning. Please forgive me for asking such a trivial thing, but please help my wife.” With that I went to bed.

About 6:30 a.m. my wife sat up in bed and said, “What am I going to do?” I told her the carrots were done, and she needed to get dressed and go try the chowder. She dipped out a small amount into a pan and heated it. As she tasted it she looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, “There are no black flecks and no burned taste. What did you do?” I told her what I had done, and we both realized the blessing He had granted us. We knelt in prayer and thanked our Heavenly Father for His love and concern for us.

What process did the Lord use? I don’t know. Why did He grant this petition? I don’t know. All I know is that He said, “Ask, and it shall be given you” (Matt. 7:7), and I believed Him. And this time He granted the blessing.

Oh yes, the clam chowder was served to the sisters. They all commented on how delicious it was and asked for the recipe.

We find the Christmas season the best time of year to remind ourselves and our family of how much the Savior cares about us and that, to Him, even little things matter.

Illustrated by Dan Lewis