Although we ate like Buddhist monks most of the time, my father's mother, Grandma Dorie, angel on the earth, greatest friend to a child, would send us manna from heaven-heaven being Wichita, KS and manna being name brand food in boxes and cans with colorful labels and cute pictures of happy kids. But better than SpaghettiOs and Veleveta Shells and Cheese, were the tins of cookies, all perfect, made with real sugar and chocolate, not and I repeat, NOT carob! There were oatmeal raisin, molasses crisps, chocolate chip, brownies, rice crispy treats, fudge, divinity, short bread, seven layer bars, and lemon squares. My mother did not bake-not bread, not cake, not cookies. She could pull amazing flavors out of beans and vegetables, but the oven was not her domain. Because of this failing, she allowed my grandmother to send a box through UPS to our house for each of our birthdays filled with our favorite cookies, and the cake of our choice and all manner of other commercial crap that we coveted but were otherwise forbidden to have. For this reason the UPS truck coming up our dead end ½ mile drive, was like seeing Santa. All the kids would run from the house screaming and jumping for joy. Smiles as big as the Kansas horizon would greet the lucky UPS driver, who we would thank and praise, while we hugged one another in the joyous anticipation of opening that box. I believe it is possible that never before or after were UPS drivers as worshiped as they were by the 6 hippy kids who lived in the pink house with the giant red heart painted on the side.
With eight in the household, these treats didn't last too long. My grandmother's reputation for delicious baked goods brought many visitors to our house. My uncle, who lived up the road from us, and could see the big brown treat wagon churning up dust past his house, was usually the first to arrive. His family also had the monk's diet, and he was always eager to help disperse the sugar-laden treats. Our cookie “jar” was a big white plastic yogurt tub that lived in a cabinet above our trash cans-burnable and non-burnable. The cookies would be loaded into the bin, and within a couple of weeks, completely consumed, until we were scraping up crumbs and licking our fingers. While we were supposed to ask if we could have a treat, cookies were stolen all the time. My father, the offspring of the Angel of Wichita, would secret out the fudge, where he would nibble on it from his underwear drawer. The only thing better than a box from grandma was actually going to visit grandma!