Monday, October 6, 2008

Us, Gift Wrapped


I can't seem to find sleep tonight. My mind has been dancing with memories, and as a result, I've spent the past hour and a half tossing around my bed, unable to settle down. So, here I am, at 11pm--with a glass of wine, and my laptop--hoping to empty my head of these images that have been buzzing around my brain, like flies at a summer picnic.

As I mentioned in my last posting, my parents celebrated their golden anniversary last week, so yesterday, our family and friends gathered to toast this milestone at an anniversary brunch. My folks--like most parents--have pretty much everything they need in this world; they've lived long enough to have accumulated plenty of "stuff", and they've worked hard enough to have traveled around the world and back again. So, when it came time to choose the right gift for them, my brothers and I definitely had our work cut out for us. We immediately crossed anything that needed to be giftwrapped off our list, as the three of us are 100% in agreement that the best things in life are definitely not things. That left us with travel. But when you have parents who have traveled everywhere together for the past fifty years--from Maine to Morocco--well, the pickin's get sort of slim (not to mention our wallets). And then--after thirty-three emails and several very businesslike conference calls--it suddenly dawned on us that the best gift we could give our parents was...us.

So, yesterday, we gifted our parents with us for an entire week. And we even threw in their grandkids, as well. And, hopefully my aunt and uncle and a few cousins will join in, too, so it can really feel like old times. You see, as kids we spent our summers down the Jersey Shore. It was a big, family event, and those special summers hold more memories than I can ever list here (so many in fact, that I had to write a book about it!). There was the boardwalk and the fireworks, early morning crabbing excursions and fishing for bluefish. There were trips to the mini golf, and to the Dairy Queen, kite flying and frisbee throwing. We showered outdoors, and slept in sandy beds, and each and every second of it was happy and joyous and carefree.

It is our hope that we can once again experience that sweet and carefree summer feeling with three generations of our family; to remember the times we shared together years ago with my parents, and to pass those memories (and create new ones) with not only my nieces, and my nephews, but to the big, extended family we now have--wives, husbands, girlfriends, boyfriends, kids of significant others, "undefinables" (you name it/we've got it).

Next August is ten months away, and already I am sleepless with anticipation. I can't wait to catch blue crabs with my father, to make crab salad with my mother.

It's after midnight, and sleep still eludes me. But that's fine, for tonight I have the delicious memories of summers past, and the dream of a beautiful summer to come to carry me into morning. Well, those, and the can of lump crabmeat I'm about to open, and stuff into the last of summer's ripe, red tomatoes.

Sweet anticipation is about to get a little bit sweeter....


MY MOM'S CRAB SALAD STUFFED TOMATOES
(from my book, Summer: A User's Guide)
6 large ripe tomatoes (avocado halves can be used as well)
3 cups crabmeat
1 1/2 cups diced celery
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
5 tablespoons mayonnaise (or more, to taste)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Lettuce leaves

Cut the top off of each tomato, then carefully scoop out the center, leaving a thick shell.
In a mixing bowl, combine crabmeat, celery, salt, pepper, lemon juice and mayonnaise. Fill tomatoes with crab salad. Place stuffed tomatoes on a bed of lettuce before serving.

Makes 6 servings.

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