When I was in college, my Mom would send me care packages. I now know she must have been going through empty nest syndrome as one by one, year by year, her three kids fledged. As the last, I may have benefitted the most. Being the only daughter may have helped, too. Plus, at the University of Missouri, I was eight hours away from my high school home town of Batavia, Illinois. (That’s Chicagoland.) So, I didn’t come home for weekends.
Sometimes, when she was really missing me, five or six boxes would arrive at once. Mom sent homemade cookies and the glass cookie jar in which to store them. Thing is, I don’t quite remember having a cookie jar as a kid. Probably because we ate them too quickly. Sweets didn’t last long in our house.
Mom always seemed to know just what I missed from home. Instead of cookies, she might send Rice Krispie treats. Or black licorice, a favorite introduced to me by my Grandpa. She also knew what I needed and would slip in a $20 bill.
And, then, there were her handmade sweaters. This was the height of Mom’s knitting phase, and the masterpieces she sent me were surely worth way more than I could have afforded as a college student. When it came to knitting, Mom didn’t skimp on yarn. Over the years, she knitted hundreds of sweaters and sweater dresses and sweater skirts. Sadly, when we moved to Hawaii, I gave most of them away. Many had long since gone out of style. But I kept my favorites.
Now, my Mom is gone, but it’s almost as if she were reincarnated in my friend Sherilyn, who is also a big believer in care packages. Like my Mom, Sherilyn always seems to know what I need.
Last week, a box from Sherilyn arrived in the mail. It was a USPS Flat Rate Package. Ostensibly, Sherilyn, who lives in California, was sending me a box of RumChata “shots” that you can add to hot chocolate or some kind of coffee drink. Back in January, I’d introduced Sherilyn to RumChata when she was visiting on Kauai. RumChata is a wonderful creamy liqueur served over ice—and can be found at the Safeway in Lihue. (Let me know what you think.) RumChata is made from a blend of rum, cream, cinnamon and vanilla. Basically, it’s a splash of rum added to horchata, the popular rice milk drink found in Mexico. (According to Wikipedia, horchata has roots going back in Valencia, Spain as far as the 13th century.)
But there was more in the box than just RumChata shots. Sherilyn was not about to let space go to waste in her Flat Rate box. (My Mom excelled at packing, too—a box, a car, a suitcase.) Sherilyn included some of my other favorite things: a notebook; a couple Staedtler pencils; some paper tabs, a la strips of Post-Its, for flagging favorite passages in books. A can of Amy’s refried beans with green chiles–her favorite kind, she said. We used them that night to make tortillas, and they were quite yummy. Packets of “True Lime” for when it’s not lime season. And the “second-to-the-last bag of Almond M&Ms in Santa Clara.” Sherilyn knows chocolate will always ensure her a warm welcome from Eric on her next visit.
Lastly, to add a little padding to the box, there was a roll of toilet paper. Now, if that’s not a sign of true friendship amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, I don’t know what is.
Oh, and the RumChata Shot in hot chocolate? Delightful.
Hawaii’s statewide count of COVID-19 cases only grew by two today to 606. Kauai holds at 21.