Having lunch with friends is the nicest idea. A visit in the middle of the day, something good to eat, a glass of iced tea as a pick-me-up. It makes the morning brighter in anticipation. It makes the afternoon brighter in the reflected glow of friendship. All in all, lunch with friends is just about the best thing you can do with yourself. Call a friend today.
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It’s about that time when we’ll all start cooking traditional family favorites. One of mine is what I call Grandma’s apples. She boiled them down in a sugar syrup laced with red hots and a bit of red food coloring to make cinnamon apples that were sweet and tart and soft enough to run a fork through. Plump and juicy and bright on a plate, they always mean holiday time to me. They remind me of long ago meals with family.
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It was a bumper crop. A record breaking crop. We put folding chairs under the tree and sat in the shade eating peaches, gooey juice running down our chins, until we could eat no more. Then we filled up every bowl and basket we could find and walked the neighborhood spreading peachy goodwill. Everyone loves my peach tree.
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The small scoop of lavender ice cream came in a paper cup with a tiny plastic spoon. It cost over $4. There were other oddly flavored ice creams in this shop – one with green chile. I gave it a tentative lick. Well, it was ice cream, all right. The lavender flavor didn’t really jump out. Should I say I loved it? Should I praise it?
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The road came to a T. I stopped at the stop sign. The voice from my phone told me to turn east. I looked in every direction for a clue to help me figure out which way was east. Did the sun help? Could I see mountains in the distance? What about shadows? Would they help? Finally I turned right. When my phone started squawking, “Recalibrating,” I realized I hadn’t picked east at all.
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Uncle Bill must have had big plans for those cherries. When he heard that I’d been climbing the cherry tree in the back yard eating up the cherries he was most unhappy with me. You can’t give back a juicy, sweet cherry once you’ve eaten it. But, really, those particular cherries – illegally seized right from the tree – were the best dang cherries I ever ate.
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Sam didn’t talk about his childhood much, so when he shared a story, I let him talk as long as he wanted. His dad’s girlfriend, he claimed, made the world worst mac and cheese. It was watery and there wasn’t enough cheese. What cheese there was wasn’t right somehow. Sam explained . . .
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It’s funny how many kinds of holiday food I loved in my childhood haven’t made it to the table in the present. I know why – my children didn’t like the same things, so I didn’t fix them. I long for mincemeat pie and cinnamon apples, pea salad and stuffed celery. The one thing we can all agree on, ripe olives, disappear so fast you’d think they were zapped by a ray gun. Food is part of the holiday experience, but having family around is more important to me.
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