"It is the poet's job to remember"
Gerald Stern

Friday, June 25, 2010


A friend told me recently how his Mother would give him a sandwich to take home with him. It would be wrapped in layers. First wax paper, then foil, and finally a impenetrable plastic wrap coating. For good measure she added a rubber band lest any of the protective armor come loose from door to door.
"What was that all wrapping about?" he asked. I've been thinking about an answer for him all day.
Mothers send food home with their adult children. It is our job. Even if they have a fully stocked refrigerator waiting at home, you will never let that child leave your home without "a little something."
Italian Mothers, for whom food is an organized religion, have been my primary examples. My Grandmother would have clutched her chest moaning "Madre benedetta della Mary di miei (Blessed Mary Mother of Mine !)" and passed out cold if she ever found herself without something for you to take with you.
I always knew when my father had dropped by Grandma's house. There would be a foil wrapped package on the table that could be peeled like an onion to reveal another layer of foil, some waxed paper, and finally the square of ricotta pie prize. What was inside changed deliciously with the seasons, but the triple plate shield was always the same.
My own mother never discarded any plastic container with a lid. She would send us home with eggplant or sausage in a giant margarine tub, wrap foil around it "in case it leaks" and then cover it with some plastic. She'd slap a few bits of masking tape on the whole deal to make sure that the plastic that was supposed to cling actually did so.
I'm a modern Mama. I have those disposable plastic containers...which I wash and re-use anyway since I AM my mother's daughter. So I pack whatever is going home with my kids in those uniform see-through rectangles with the tight fitting lids. There may be a rubber band involved if I panic and wonder if the "sure seal" lid might pop. Then I put the whole thing in a zip lock bag. After that it goes into another bag for carrying purposes.
As I said, I've been considering my friend's question all day.
I know why we bundle our children off with sandwiches and cookies and the lasagna from Christmas dinner in such careful packaging.
They are our gift wrapped hearts.

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