The Gift of Macaroni

It just occurred to me as I was cooking supper last night that COVID-19 has changed more than a few things about our lives. I mean, there are the obvious things such as masks, sanitizer, social distancing, store/restaurant limits, gathering stipulations, virtual meetings, etc. Then, there are the other things that are a bit more comical in nature. For example, thanks to working at home protocols, many of us everyday folks have admitted to sporting more casual wear (too casual at times 😉), investing in tops versus bottoms, showering less frequently (be careful with this one), forgoing make-up routines, snacking more, etc. What wasn’t expected for most of us was the full shut-down of services and places of business leaving us in a bit of a pickle at times with unexpected things such as our hair, nails and other beautifying routines. Hence, the current trend of gray hair and less kempt cuts. But who knew the impact the pandemic would/could have on gift-giving?!

With fewer places open and shopping restrictions on those items deemed frivolous, a person has certainly had to become more creative over the past few months, including handing over more homemade items than ever before. It’s actually been pretty heart-warming to see the measures that friends and loved ones have put into various celebrations which have had to involve limits, distancing and more outside kinds of things. My dinner-making extravaganza reminded me of my own family’s recent get-together and our birthday/anniversary/Father’s Day finds thanks to COVID and some real ingenuity… or not. At one point in time not so long ago, I would have never guessed unwrapping the items we’d each received from one another.

As our turkey breast cooked away in the oven and I opened up the familiar package of Cracker Barrel Oven Baked Macaroni (which is surprisingly good, by the way), I couldn’t help but giggle as I thought of my oldest brother who gifted it to me for my birthday. From him and my sister-in-law, I also scored some frozen, loaded potato skins which were really, really tasty and easy to cook up as well as a gift card—more our usual style. I will admit that it seemed strange to reach into my gift bag and pull out potatoes and macaroni, but that’s not the best part… Ironically, after hearing my brother brag about his latest and greatest macaroni find a few weeks prior, I actually bought him the EXACT same bag of Cracker Barrel to add to his birthday spread. Can you imagine?! I mean, if we were still kids, we’d have felt ripped off staring at the brown and orange bags. Likely, I would have started crying to my parents. (Probably the reason why my brother would have given me macaroni to begin with back then). Luckily, the middle age me has a much different appreciation for practical gifts, such as food in this case. Just the same, it’s hard to believe how much times have changed, both age and pandemic-wise.

Now, giving store-bought food to one another is one thing, but my dad probably landed the biggest ‘unsurprised’ gift of his lifetime at our multi-celebratory gathering. To clarify, in addition to COVID’S affect on the availability of things. my dad is seriously one of the most difficult people to buy for at the best of times. At 82 years old, he has most everything you could ever want or need as a guy, so coming up with ideas for presents hasn’t been an easy task for awhile now. Knowing that, I charged my brother with purchasing something for Father’s Day just as he asked me to take care of Mother’s Day stuff. Little did I know that my brother was going to err on the side of uber practical gifts—as in not really what one might expect or hope for in a present, not that my dad expects anything at all even. Any guesses out there?! Perhaps if I reminded you that my dad is a retired farmer who loves to garden, that would help. Well, if you were thinking of two of the biggest jugs of Round-Up Weed Killer that you’ve ever seen in your life, you’d be right! My goodness did I chuckle. I think my dad first thought that it was a bit of a joke judging by the expression on his face. Then, when he realized that the sloshing, white containers made up the bulk of his birthday regalia, my brother quickly explained that our choices were limited and weed spray was something that we knew would be used versus stored and forgotten about. While he is certainly right and my dad thanked us, I’m personally hoping that the spice cake and Cheezies that I’d given to him earlier in the week made up for the ob’noxious’ nature of his other gifts (pun intended). In saying that, I also know that if I’d have been the one to buy for my dad, my picks would have likely landed in the ‘stored and forgotten about’ pile.

How about you and your family? Any interesting gift ideas or macaroni-like tales from your end of COVID-19? Or, maybe you’ve sprayed some weeds lately or whipped up some loaded potato skins that you’d like to tell me about. I bet my family isn’t the only one with some great birthday bargains, so let’s hear it. Then again, some things might be better left unsaid, huh?! After all, I know that some of you are walking around in your undies more often than not these days, and I’m not so sure the rest of us need to know much more than that. 😉

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