|A derelict grocery store that for a short |
time was an Eberhard's Food Center.
|This shelf of vintage food at a |
Missouri estate sale reminds me
of my mom's cupboard.
|I grew up eating 1950s Jell-O my mom |
had purchased for next to nothing at an old
general store auction.
There's a thin line between sanity and insanity, and sometimes my mom, when she shops, tiptoes over it. I forswore coupons several years ago. Since we shop at the local produce market, our own kitchen garden, or the salvage store an hour and a half away, I mostly avoid the temptation to collect groceries. I find thrift stores and garage sales problematic, though. It's easy to overbuy for Laura's Last Ditch. Attending a Voluntary Simplicity study group helped me control the impulse by hammering home that just because something's cheap doesn't mean I have to buy it. I'm constantly admonishing myself, "Leave it to bless someone else."
|Kristi offers Halloween candy to George.|
|The flax and apple muffins were|
It came about so slowly, we hardly realized it. We gradually saw less and less of Kristi, until one day, Lori, her caretaker, told us she no longer needed our food. Kristi was too ill to eat. Not long after, parked cars filled the street in front of her house, and we feared those closest to her had come for final goodbyes. The next day we learned she had passed away.
With Kristi's joie de vivre; she ordered pizza for her funeral. But Kristi had another surprise just for us. She bequeathed us the contents of her cupboards, refrigerator, and freezer--wonderful, expensive, and fun foods we would never, ever buy. If we were Kristi's food angels, it looked like she had dispatched a multitude of the heavenly host to fill our back porch. I doubt most people, as they're dying, give much thought to their neighbors or an over-full pantry, but she took care to bless us with her abundance.
On my mom's first shopping trip after marrying my dad, she bought a jar of Crosse & Blackwell mincemeat. Bearing a 35-cent price emblazoned in wax crayon indicating it was a markdown, she intended to make mincemeat cookies like Anna-Mae Kaiser's mom's, but never got around to it. While many of our favorite possessions we sold or gave away while preparing for our many moves, the mincemeat remained a constant through my childhood. A few years ago, my mom--as if to substantiate her sanity--attempted to throw out the 40-year-old mincemeat. Eating old Jell-O consisting of sugar, citric acid, flavors and colorants is one thing, but the mincemeat pie filling--its contents escaping the confines of the jar and drying on the label--she wouldn't risk. Yet, Becky and I intervened. Who says an heirloom has to be a rocking chair or a wedding ring?
My mom never filled us with mincemeat cookies, but she filled us with her love--and with her love of frugality, even if it was sometimes frugality gone awry. And in a final benediction some day, she may leave one of her children the mincemeat pie filling. But as for the rest of the food? She'll have to leave that to bless someone else, though only a movie set designer or museum curator could appreciate such a windfall.
Even though she failed to impart to us the importance of needing an item when considering if it's a good value, in teaching the values that matter most, she excelled. And with her kindness and generosity evident to all who know her, I'm sure some wonder if they have met an angel.
Happy Mother's Day, Mom!
Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. -Hebrews 13:2