The Grapes & Happy New Year!

Sometimes, a favorite memory comes like a wave.  This happened to me yesterday at the Metropolitan Garden Center in New Jersey, on Mount Pleasant Avenue.  My middle child, just turned eleven, needed a new pot for her prayer plant (also called a Maranta, this plant curls up its leaves at nighttime and looks like it’s praying).  We went on our field trip and while she began debating the size of the new pot to be purchased, I was drawn to the holiday discount section, eyes peeled for a one-of-a-kind bargain.  I grew up in farm country on a limited budget, and my dad taught me early on the joy in a good deal.  My eyes lit on a strand of grape clusters . . . at once one of my childhood memories came flooding back and I wanted those grapes for my own.

The childhood memory is this: in our family eating out was a much-appreciated and infrequent event.  We had dined at Alfredo’s, an upstate NY restaurant with an “arbor” for a ceiling.  The arbor was decorated with bunches of plastic grapes, and to us, dining there was like dining in a vineyard in France.  My sister Laurel, with whom I shared a room, and I were captivated.  We wanted our bedroom to look just like that.  So we pooled our money and headed to Grants, which was kind of like a Kohl’s.  We entered with our heads held high—but alas, all we could afford was a single bunch of grapes . . . It’ll come as no surprise that we couldn’t recreate the Alfredo’s arbor with our small offering. However, we were not thwarted—we hung our singular bunch of grapes on the outside of our bedroom door.

Remembering this back at the Metropolitan Garden Center, I bought the strand of grapes, with a big smile on my face.  Now they hang in clusters in my dining room, and they light up too!  My grapes hang for me and my sister Laurel, in our own upstairs world, where we always seemed able to work out our differences in a 200-square foot room.  What magic that a little field trip to the garden store could bring such a surprising memory, full of love and laughter, full of gratitude that even though I don’t share a room with her, I still get to cackle with Laurel.

Happy New Year!

Holly McGhee