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Preserving Summer

One of my greatest regrets is not having learned how to make strawberry preserves from my Grandma Bert before she passed away.

Every May, we would go out picking at the strawberry farms in Southern Illinois. It was such a big deal when I was little. We savored my grandma’s strawberry preserves all year; enjoying the opportunity to create them with her was an honor.

I remember next to nothing about the actual preserving process. I know boiling the strawberries was involved. Or cooking them down. Something. I remember the mason jars and the lids on the counter and knowing that everything had to go just right for them to seal correctly.

I also remember crayons and Mister Rogers as part of the strawberry preserves memories. This is a good clue as to why I don’t remember the preserving process.

Surely, we returned from picking, placed the strawberries in the kitchen, made peanut butter and strawberry preserve sandwiches with watered-down Coke (she wouldn’t let us have it straight), and then I would disappear into the living room to eat and play in front of the TV. While she preserved the strawberries.

I missed it. I was little and distracted and I missed it.

Then I was older and distracted and I didn’t want to learn.

Then it was too late.

Now I’m a mom and I don’t know how to cook hardly anything. I make a mean grilled cheese and a fine casserole if I’m really focused, but that just about covers it. My 7 year old once wrote that his favorite food that I make is homemade cookies. I have never made homemade cookies. I’m glad he liked them, nonetheless.

The reason I’ll take the credit for those homemade cookies is that it’s the memory of them that counts. I’ll take the memory. I’m not all that hung up on how it’s made.

Summer vacation has started for our family. The kids are home, though I’m still working every day from that home. Work did not, in fact, take a vacation. So we cut corners. We keep things simple. We take shortcuts through the weedy paths to memories.

Summer means strawberries to me. Somewhere deep in my childhood mind, strawberries are warming in the sun. We gather them up and turn them into something to savor later, at our leisure.

This summer, that memory is reached through frozen strawberries. We are so distracted and busy, the five of us in this family, that fresh strawberries would likely rot in the refrigerator. Let’s just be honest and save ourselves the wasted time and money.

We make the most of our summer and our leisurely mornings together by grabbing frozen strawberries out of the freezer, piling them on a plate and treating ourselves to a dollop of COOL WHIP Whipped Topping. What you add makes it. It tips the scale from “breakfast” to “breakfast treat,” which summer simply demands, doesn’t it? It’s delicious and summer and worth remembering to keep COOL WHIP on hand.

I feel like the doting summer mother I want my kids to see in their mind when they remember their Southern summers. Even if we were actually really busy and distracted and not picking strawberries fresh from the farm and freezing them ourselves. Or preserving them with love.

I am older and still distracted, but I do want to learn. It’s not too late to make the most of these days.

 

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A big thanks to COOL WHIP Whipped Topping for sponsoring this campaign. Sponsored posts are purely editorial content and are not advertiser produced. Click here to see more of the discussion.
What you add makes it. #coolwhipmoms

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Read more of Megan’s writing at VelveteenMind.com
Follow her summer-savoring on twitter and Facebook

More of Megan on Threadbare Theory:

Spinning Moments Into Memories
When Is Summer Vacation for Grown-Ups?
Scent Memory: What smells do you want your kids to associate with their childhood?

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photo credit: Picha Global

 

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