My parents have never gotten out of the habit of sending care packages. Actually, it seems to be a thing in our family...instead of remembering to send things on birthdays or other holidays, we seem to collect things for the others until there's enough for a care package.
It's always interesting to me, to reflect on what my parents had in mind when they included any particular item in a package. I've gotten some pretty odd things. Some times, in fact, the very opening and discovery of a package is entertainment in and of itself!
A couple of years ago around the holidays, my dad sent me a box of stuff packed in peanuts. No, not the styrofoam dealies...real peanuts. And pecans. As packing material. I won't even go into the actual contents of the box. One year at school, I got a package from my mom (who was living in Florida at the time). I opened it up, burrowed into the wadded newspaper padding and came up with...
I wasn't sure what it was. It was...organic, probably vegetal. It was sort of eggplant shaped, and a mottled purply-green. Kinda squishy to the touch. Was it rotted, whatever it was?
I dug further into the box. Found another, slightly smaller. No note from mom, or any other identifying materials. I pondered.
I sniffed at one of the objects, very cautiously. Hmm...familiar, but couldn't quite place it.
Shrugging, I put the things back in the box and headed back to the dorm. As I walked across campus, I continued to occasionally lift the box to my nose & sniff, trying to identify the mystery objects.
Back in the dorm room, several of us clustered around the box, trying to figure it out (hey, you'd be surprised what kind of mundanity becomes incredibly interesting while away at boarding school). All the while in the back of my brain, I knew I recognized the smell!
Finally, it clicked. The smell was very ripe avocado! Having grown up in the midwest, I had never seen an avocado much bigger than a pear...but these were huge, eggplant sized monsters! And overripe. And with smooth skin that I'd never seen on an avo before.
That evening, after making and sharing some lovely guacamole with my compatriots, I called mom. "Mom?" I asked slowly..."why are you sending me rotten eggplants in the mail? Are you mad at me?" We giggled madly...periodically shrieking "rotten eggplants!", and bursting into giggles all over again.
When we finally settled down, I got the full story: one of her friends in Florida had an avocado tree in the back yard. She was always foisting the avos off on mom (who loves avocados). Mom thought I'd get a kick out of seeing such huge ones...so packaged them up & sent a couple of them to me...not realizing that the newspaper & cardboard enclosure would speed the ripening process.
I recently got a care package from my dad. The very random contents:
-a bunch of CDs I left last time I visited
-a leather backpack
-a cordless phone
-two Frankoma pottery mugs...in discontinued colors, as it turns out
-a box of Ibarra chocolate (which is a bit sweet for my taste on it's own, but when mixed with some Droste & heated with milk, makes incredible cocoa...)
-most of a cone of mexican sugar
-part of a tin of irish oatmeal
-a beautiful ristra from the Hatch Chile Festival
-A copy of the Tucson Weekly
Oh, and $20. Old habits die hard.