“Eat when food is offered to you, you never know when your next meal will be.”
“Learn to eat what the locals eat, that way you’ll never go hungry.”
The one that stayed with us in the most physical sense was:
“Take some ketchup and sugar packets and napkins – you never know.”
What we did know is that when we emptied out my parents’ house we found a drawer full of rough brown McDonald’s napkins and kitchen canisters full of sugar, mustard, relish, and ketchup packets.
Given mama’s fondness for fast food there were not as many packets as one might think, because, in spite of mama’s concern over whether she might have enough ketchup, she loved a good joke and Halloween was the annual purge of packaged condiments.
My parents lived on a residential street with sidewalks and streetlights. They had major trick or treat traffic and they participated enthusiastically. Every Halloween they filled a many-quart–size stainless steel mixing bowl with varieties of brightly-colored candies that mingled with packets of ketchup, mustard, relish, and Arby’s Sauce.
My mother would stuff a handful of candy in each trick or treater’s bag and chuckle when she included a packet from her Depression collection.
She loved to imagine the confusion the mustard packet would cause when dumped out with the Hersheys, Nestles, and Mars candies.
My children love thinking of their grandmother’s mischief and they always add a few stray packets of whatever we may have to our Halloween bucket. Last Halloween we ordered Chinese food so we had some clear packets of soy sauce.
When the doorbell rang, my daughter jumped up.
“I’ll get it!”
She returned with a smile, “Grandma would be so proud! One of the kids said to the other, ‘Cool! Vampire blood!’ when he saw the soy sauce…. I think we did all right!”
I looked at our countertops clear of little plastic packets and thought, “Yes, we did!”