My own mustard
The first year Uncle Bob began making his own Champagne mustard I couldn’t eat it. My young pallet didn’t yet allow me to ingest spicy foods. Uncle Bob’s Mustard (as it would later be called) wasn’t just spicy, though — as I found out the year I successfully tried it — it also had a sweet quality to it.
The condiment/dipping sauce became a staple in the presents Uncle Bob and my Aunt Kim gave at Christmas. Each household in the family got its own container of Uncle Bob’s Mustard, plus some snacks to go along with it: individually wrapped cheeses, summer sausage and pretzel sticks.
The first few months after I moved into my own place I had a weird sensation that I was entering new territory for our family. I was the first child/grandchild to strike out on my own instead of moving from my parents’ house due to marriage or in anticipation thereof. Because this was all new for everyone, it seemed as though no one quite knew how to respond to my living situation.
Although I was definitely living by myself (as evidence of the weekly solo food shopping trips and the unspoken realization that my dirty laundry was not going to miraculously make it back into my closet clean and pressed), in many ways I still felt like I was living with my parents, just an hour away. And since they owned my condo, I was literally still living under their roof.
My invite to Thanksgiving dinner (which was more of a formalized way of finalizing which home was hosting the family event) was included with my parents and younger brother’s, and my mom affirmed I would be there. I wasn’t asked to bring a dish, though I offered to supply the canned cranberry sauce knowing I would end up eating at least 80 percent of it. My parents or grandparents generally brought the green bean casserole (a dish never missing from the table no matter how much I wished it), while Aunt Kim supplied the desserts.
A month later my named appeared on Christmas cards addressed to my parents.
Christmas Eve rolled around and we were gathered once again at my grandparents’ house for our meatless, Polish feast. After dinner we began passing presents around the living room. Among them were containers of Uncle Bob’s Mustard. Then Uncle Bob handed me a cellophane-wrapped package. Nestled inside a red snowmen-decorated container was a personal-sized jar of Uncle Bob’s Mustard and an assortment of dipp-able goodies.
“Really?” I half-squeaked in surprise. “My own mustard?”
Uncle Bob smiled as I showed off my new acquisition to my mom. “My own mustard.”
Although I did enjoy the mustard, the fact that I received it thrilled me even more. Because even though my name was on the cable bill and I could leave dirty dishes in the sink overnight without anyone knowing they were there, this was the first real validation that I was on my own. I was a household of one.
Katie Pasek is the author of “Sure-foot Sam in Jeopardy” and Junior’s New Home. For more information, please visit www.katiepasek.com.