Today I am writing on behalf of anyone who has ever been the victim of unfair criticism due to the peculiar circumstances of their upbringing.
I know of which I speak. Over the past 30-plus years, I have been doubted, taunted and endlessly judged on countless occasions by my own husband and children for a simple reason: I have never eaten a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
I mean never. Not even once.
I thought I was alone. Then on Thanksgiving, five of my seven siblings confirmed that they, too, have never eaten a PB&J and have been suffering the slings and arrows of their outrageous fortune ever since. I don’t know that we’ve ever felt closer.
My point is, it was our parents’ fault. It’s not that they were bad parents. They did the best they could, feeding us foods they knew.
They served us hard salami and jelly sandwiches, hotdogs and jelly, hamburgers and jelly, and — my brother John swears — tuna fish and jelly.
I take that back. My parents served us hard salami, hot dogs, hamburgers and tuna fish. We added the jelly using our own free will.
Yes, we liked jelly. We picked the Concord grapes. Our mother canned the jelly. LOTS of it. A year’s worth at a time. WE LIKED JELLY.
I know what you are wondering. You are wondering what we had against peanut butter. The answer is simple: Nothing. We just didn’t have any.
I don’t know why. In my parent’s defense, we also didn’t have pizza. Or bagels. Or Chinese food. Or Mexican, such as Taco Bell.
This past Thanksgiving, John also pointed out that the first time our family ate anything remotely ethnic was when, at age 10, I made Italian spaghetti using my 4-H “Let’s Start Cooking” cookbook. We knew it was authentic because it contained a bay leaf.
What else did we eat? Anything that grew in my father’s football field-sized vegetable garden. Lots of pork and/or beef, depending whether a pig or cow had been butchered most recently. The chocolate chip cookies my mother baked every single day.
Also, milk. Our family drank a gallon a day, most of which was purchased at Vi & Jim’s, a one-room market where you handed Vi your mother’s shopping list and she’d fill it. For items not in stock, she would tell you what she thought your mom would like instead. Kind of like Amazon.
With God as my witness, I never pushed a shopping cart in a full-fledged Piggily Wiggly until I was old enough to drive.
So, there it is. My siblings and I were not raised on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. And not one of us judge people who were. Chunky or creamy, we love you all the same.