Treasuring Our Family Time
“Are we ready to go, Mommy?”
“No, not just yet, sweetie. I have to put some Kool-Aid in your lunchbox thermos for you and some water in last year’s thermos for me. You know we’ll be thirsty by the time we get there and do all that shopping. We’ll be hungry, too. But, you know what? We’ll just eat some of whatever cookies we decide to buy. ”
“Or Little Ann oatmealcakes?”
“Sure, baby. We can get some of them, too. We’ll have a nice snack while we shop. You know we are going to buy a lot of food today!”
Five minutes later, we were in the car and on the big road, as Sharon called the interstate. I smiled as I looked at her. She was obviously in an expansive, the-world-is-my-oyster mood. The smile on her face was as big as Christmas.
The wind zipped through the open car windows (yes, even in Florida we had no air conditioning in the car) and swirled her strawberry blonde hair in semicircles around her face. By hiking her right shoulder up, she managed to rest the entire length of one skinny little arm on the edge of the window, affectionately and possessively. The gesture reminded me of young boys stretching to put a soon-to-be-manly arm around their mother’s shoulders at church and PTA meetings.
Always mindful that she would all too soon be a young adult, I used every outing to explain a bit about driving skills or to practice navigation.
“See if you can tell me whether to go left or right at this next fork in the road.”
“Look up ahead. See that car pulled off to the side? When you see a car stopped like that, change lanes if you can, so you won’t go by them so close. It’s safer that way.
At the store, we each got a buggy and two or three of the empty cardboard boxes tossed in a wire cage at the front of the store. At this store, you “bagged” your groceries yourself, in those boxes, which was another way they kept prices low.
“You can be in charge of your own buggy, sweetie. You decide where the heavy stuff has to go and where to put the bread and cookies so they won’t get smashed.
“Okay! And I think I”ll put the big box of laundry soap on the bottom rack, with the toilet paper.”
Grateful for food to eat.
Off we went, to load our buggies with canned corn, green beans, spinach, fruit cocktail, tuna, spaghetti sauce, cookies, crackers, flour, sugar, and rice. Sharon’s eyebrows disappeared under her bangs when I put an entire case—24 cans-—of whole kernel corn in the bottom of her buggy.
“Mommy! Are you sure we can afford that much?”
She smiled so big I thought surely it must hurt when I put three boxes of strawberry pop tarts and four packages of individually wrapped oatmeal cake snacks in her buggy.
“Wow! That’s enough for lunch every day and for after school!”.
Jewel-T offered near wholesale prices by handling only generic brands and offering no frills, not even shelves. The fronts of boxes in which food was shipped cut out and the boxes were stacked, beside each other, making ersatz shelves similar to the shelves and aisles in typical grocery stores.