nooks and crannies

16 12 2008


Yesterday morning I had a toasted English Muffin for breakfast.  It was right there in the package next to the toaster begging me to warm it up so that the butter I added could make little yellow swimming pools.  Suddenly I was transported back a few dozen years to one of the best Christmas gifts ever.

Living thousands of miles from where I called “home”, I began to crave things that I never bothered to buy on a regular basis.  “Must have root beer,” was the chant going on and on in my head.  I rarely even bought the stuff when I lived in the States.  But now that it wasn’t available anywhere – THAT is what I wanted.

Before ever leaving the States, I had gotten lists of things that were “unavailable”.  It was inconceivable to try to adjust to cultural shock and a new life on foreign soil without certain comfort food.  So in the dark corners of boxes holding our most prized possessions, jars of peanut butter and bags of chocolate chips made their way across the ocean.  I was planning my own little black market trade. 

I remember my first Christmas party in Spain with other missionaries where we were to bring the proverbial white elephant gift.  That game can only be fun if there really is something valuable in the mix of stupid items.  A recently unpacked stash provided me with just the thing – a nice big jar of Jiff.  There was weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth that surrounded that circle till some lucky family suddenly had a jar of golden goodness to take home.

When we first settled in the city of Zaragoza, it felt like we were in the hinterlands. Four hours and a serpentine road away from Madrid, we didn’t have a Burger King, McDonalds or all the other places I came to eventually loath.  At the beginning – it just represented familiar tastes and a huge treat. On a regular basis we had to be in the capital and one of the first orders of business was always a stop at one of these places.  

Suddenly I found myself craving English Muffins.  I don’t ever remember buying them in bulk or having to have one every week but because they were no where to be found – I had to have them.  One of my fondest memories of being separated from the family I loved dearly and uncannily connected to perfect strangers who became my family – someone gave me the a simple gift I will never forget.  Through an arrangement with someone who worked at McDonald’s – he was able to purchase a number of English Muffins just for me.

It wasn’t too many years later that we moved to Madrid and by then Marks & Spencer became a place I’d shop on a frequent basis.  I had all the English Muffins my little heart desired…even if it meant a 30 minute subway ride downtown, crowds of shoppers and lugging my goodies back to the neck of the woods we were living in.  

So yesterday’s muffin just reminded me again – it is the thought that counts. And nooks and crannies are good.