26 December 2010

Crackerbox Reverie

The ghost of my maternal grandmother said hello to me on Christmas Eve.  It was right in the middle of the grocery store and I amazed that no one else heard her.  It was on the bottom shelf, on the cracker aisle, a bright red box asking me if I wanted some crackers.  Of course I said yes.

When I was a boy, the many visits to my G-maw's house were always a treat.  She always had some kind of snacks, ones that I liked, and she was generous in sharing them.  Brownies, cookies, crackers and even homemade chocolate candies during the holidays, or when the mood struck her to make them.  One of my favorite memories of childhood is of me perched on a stool at the counter between her kitchen and her living room, a big glass of iced tea (liberally laced with lemon juice) and two or three pecan sandies to munch on.  For some reason those cookies always tasted so much better in the summer time, washed down with that iced tea poured from a chipped enameled pitcher she kept in the refrigerator.

I still have the buttery, nut crunch combined with a slight grittiness, on my tongue to this day.

I remembered those cookies for years after I got older, had fewer visits with G-maw and then went off to college.  I think I even got a few boxes in some care packages I received while I was away at school.  Once I moved away out of state, though, I don't recall having purchased another box in all that time.  At least not for years, anyway.

I kept that memory.  Or should I say, it kept me.

It was a little surprising for me, this past Christmas Eve, when I stumbled across the crackers at the grocery store.  They were the kind that G-maw always seemed to have on hand, and ones that I scarfed down in probably greater quantities than the cookies.  They weren't the same ones my parents would buy, although those were good as well.  In fact, it had been my tendency as an adult to buy the same brand of crackers that I ate at home as a kid.

But it was G-maw's crackers that stayed in my mind, somewhere in there with a shipload of memories.  On Christmas Eve in the grocery store, I saw that bright red box, for the first time in years.  I did a double take.  I wasn't quite sure I was seeing what I thought I saw.  I stopped the cart and went back to look at them.  Sure enough, it the same ones.  I picked up a box, and immediately felt myself standing in G-maw's kitchen,  glass of tea in one hand and a stack of crackers in the other.  She smiled at me and turned to put the box back in the cabinet...

...and I blinked myself back into the present, surrounded by the rush and clatter of the store.  I realized I was grinning, for no other reason than a humble box of crackers had just taken me home.

Later that afternoon, after I had brought my daughter home with me for the Christmas weekend, I realized I might have a small hurdle to cross.  The Wee Lass is particular about her juice and snacks.  Not just anything will do.  She once refused to drink some apple juice because it was the kind that came in the yellow box, and not the green box, and "it tasted weird", in her opinion.  Her cracker preferences had always paralleled mine, by dint of habit and my control of the grocery shopping.  But here I was, possessed of a crackers in a red box, and not the white and blue box.  I was uncertain if she would like them, as I had when I was small.

I needn't have worried.  She asked for crackers to snack upon, as was her usual custom, so I put some in a bowl and handed them over.  About the time she bit into one, I was crunching my way through a cracker myself.  The taste was memory, years rolling back and summers revisited.  Humble, in no way extravagant, and so very good.

Wee Lass sat at her princess table, contentedly munching and watching television, as happy as I think I used to be in G-maw's kitchen.  Standing in the archway into my kitchen, watching my daughter eat, I heard a noise behind me that sounded like G-maw's chuckle, followed by the soft clack of a cabinet door shutting.  My pantry, my heart, became full.

7 comments:

  1. Beautiful story, Irish. Makes me smile.

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  2. Ohhh Happy Christmas and New Year, and I liked this wonderful memory share!

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  3. Oh, that's a great story!

    It reminds me that my mom always kept Stella Doro cookies in the goose cookie jar in her kitchen and then in her room at the nursing home. When she died, I got the cookie jar (I had given it to her years ago as a Mother's Day gift). It's on my kitchen counter and I'm always on the look out for those cookies, but they're very hard to find these days.

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  4. I adored that post. I'm often whisked away to my childhood- and try to relax and enjoy the ride.

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  5. Thought I already commented here... Love this post. And merry christmas.

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