by Jennifer Mally
This time of year always gets me thinking about those things that make me feel warm and fuzzy inside. For me, there are a lot of things -- some silly and most quite simple -- that trigger an emotional surge. And, it seems the older I get, the more there is that trips that trigger. Just looking out the window makes me thankful for the part I play in this grand and wonder filled world. Eating a cold chicken sandwich does that for me too. (Yea, that's what I said.)
If ever there was a comfort food for me, it's a cold chicken sandwich. Cold chicken sandwiches make me feel loved.
Back in the days when you could safely put your children on a bus and send them off to Grandma's house, my parents did just that. I'm thinking I was about nine years old, with a younger sister and brother in tow. We were taking the bus from Bloomington, Minnesota, to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, to visit Grandma Smith.
At the very rear of the bus, conveniently located near the "facilities", was a seat that went three deep. That's where we parked our little behinds to ride out the trip.
As many first borns do, I took my role as big sister very seriously. So seriously, that I would never admit to discomfort, fear, sadness, anything that even closely resembled what I perceived as character flaws, unless I absolutely had to. I, of course, put these great demands on myself, unbeknownst to my parents who were, and are, two of the most loving and accepting people on earth.
This trip was no exception. On the outside, I was in charge, invincible and in the groove with the whole bus thing. On the inside, I was quivering mush. You know, your heart pounds, your palms sweat, you constantly have to "go".
And we hadn't even left the depot yet. Thankfully, once we got rolling, the turning of the wheels, the passing, changing landscape, had a strangely calming effect. But it wasn't until we dug into our little brown bags for lunch that I knew, without a doubt, that everything was going to be O.K.
White bread. Buttered. Cold chicken. Lightly salted. (Hey, it was the sixties.) It was a chicken sandwich like I had never tasted before -- a chicken sandwich from heaven. It was as if my mother had stuffed herself into a sandwich bag and was there to remind me of home and love.
Chicken sandwiches still touch me in that way. I've tried to explain this to my 11-year-old stepson, David. He doesn't quite get it, but someday he will.
I don't know if I've mastered my mother's knack at sandwich making, but I try.
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