By PAMELA STRICKER
“Mom, I hope my letter finds you well. I find myself almost having anxiety attacks when I think of all the family time that I have missed…”
My son, John, wrote that in a letter I received from him a few years ago. How precious are his words to me and how I cherish the letters I have collected over the years from loved ones and friends. Yes, I save them and revisit them from time to time, reminding me of what we have been through together, even though sometimes many miles apart from each other.
Today, John is more likely to send a text or call me to stay in touch. And I am grateful he stays in touch, but there’s something much more lasting when the message is handwritten.
And you have to be careful with those text messages. More than once I hit the send button too quickly and off it went to the wrong person. I had one recently from my cousin, Patti Jo, in North Carolina. Here’s how it went…
PJ: “ hey, I’m looking to start cleaning houses. If you hear of anyhone looking for someone, will you let me know please?”
Me: “In Ohio?? Mom needs someone!”
PJ: “Lol!! I don’t know if I could drive that far. :D”
Me: “She pays well and she still cooks real good!”
PJ: “Ok… maybe lol”
PJ: “Does your mom live in Ohio now?”
Me: “This is your cousin Pam. Did you think I was someone else?”
PJ: This is Patti Jo! Did you think I was your cousin?”
Turned out Patti Jo had sent it to the wrong Pam. We sure had a good laugh over that one and, truth is, we had a fun connection we would probably have otherwise not had. So there is value in our digital communication.
I have recipes I have saved and refer back to that were handwritten by my many of my relatives and friends over the years. I can imagine the day we prepared a certain recipe together and they wrote it out for me. I love looking back at some of the personal touches added in the recipes. In the middle of her recipe for Raisin Cookies, Grandma Mills wrote “Pam, I usually mix them up and put them in the refrigerator overnight before I roll them out for cookies. Easier to handle.” Just notes like that make me feel like she is still watching over me as I throw the ingredients together, hoping I can measure up to her reputation as a great cook.
It’s just not the same when I prop my iPad up on the counter and search for something to fix for dinner tonight.
So, it was thoughts like this that inspired our theme for this spring edition of Salt: “Staying in Touch”. We have changed the way we communicate so much and I think we have lost some of the value we had when we could walk out to the mailbox and discover a letter from a friend or loved one. Maybe, just maybe, we need to embrace the future, but not let go of the past.
I can sit down with a cup of tea and pull out letters from people like my dad who is no longer living, and take in, once again, the encouragement and support he offered at a time in my life when I was feeling pretty hopeless. I don’t do that with text messages, emails or Facebook. How about you?
Here’s one of the recipes that Mom prepares often. She first remembers Grandma Mills fixing it. The recipe is in an old cookbook she still has that was published by the Ladies’ Aide Society of Satterfield’s Chapel Christian Union Church (just outside West Union). This is a nice springtime salad and always a big hit.
1 large can pineapple in chunks
¾ cup sugar
Lump of butter
¾ cup nuts (we usually use walnuts)
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons flour
Empty the can of pineapple with juice into a saucepan on the stove and let it come to a boil. In a separate bowl, add sugar, flour, butter, eggs and salt. Beat until creamy. Slowly add the creamy mixture to the pineapple and stir as you add. Boil about a minute. Then let it cool. Then add the nuts and marshmallows. (We like to use the big marshmallows and cut them into quarters with scissors. That way the marshmallow absorbs more of the flavor.)
Speaking of recipes, you don’t want to miss the Homemaker’s Show in Hillsboro on April 27. Tickets are $5 and go on sale at The Times-Gazette office on April 2. And save the date of October 16 for The Salt Marketplace and Cook Show at Roberts Centre in Wilmington. These are great times to get together with all of you and we have lots of goodies and recipes to share with all of you. Hope you can make it.
In the meantime… please pass the salt.
Pamela is the publisher of Salt, the publisher of the Wilmington News Journal and the publisher of the southwest group of papers for Ohio Community Media.