Trina Machacek: Giving back

There are times when your friends, neighbors and a gaggle of others will bring food to your doorstep. I still remember the amazing pumpkin raisin muffins some wonderful lady made and brought to a little hall somewhere in Buhl, Idaho where my other half’s family was helped through the sadness of the loss of his grandfather with food from people from far and near for the small town potluck dinner that usually follows services like those. Oh, how I wish I could find that lady and garner her recipe. I’m talking that was more than 10 but less than 40 years ago. Those were some muffins. Hold on while I wipe the corners of my mouth…

Funerals are just one reason you get goodies to stuff into your refrigerator. There is also a new baby reason, precooked food to help the mom through the first weeks of a new mouth in the house. A mouth that is many moons away from enjoying the different delightful dishes that appear as if by magic. Then there is the backyard barbecue where everyone brings a dish of deliciousness. These appearances of food to your home are not what I want to attack today. No, I want to talk about the surprise and welcomed out of the blue and off-the-cuff taste treats.

If you know a baker or a soup maker or a friend that in any way watches any of the many, many food channels, you know that sooner or later you are going to be awarded with the latest taste treat that your baker or soup maker or candy, salad, meat, vegetable maker will make, then delightfully delight you with a taste of their latest creation. Some are truly wonderful and some, well not so much. But! Yes, a satisfying tasty “but.” Ha, ha. But you take in all things that come across your threshold. You never know it may be the best liver-rimmed Jello salad with mushroom bits on a bed of kale that there ever was.

So you have dispatched, uh, eaten and enjoyed the wonderful whatever it was, and now you need to return the plate, bowl, pan, cup, glass, Tupperware or Rubbermaid sealed with freshness container back to the giver. Herein is the dilemma that I used to give too much of my time to. Just what is the correct etiquette in returning a dish? Wash it, of course. Ha, ha. Not that I am tied to the tried-and-true blue of any etiquette or way of the mainstream world. I happily have always followed my own path in these types of situations. But for the conformist, I will stick to the path of normal. I can always go back to my flighty, fun self, right?

My mother — and we all know that mothers are always right — my mother never returned an empty dish, and that’s a grand tradition I have tried to stick with. The fun in that is to figure out what to put in that dish when returning it. It’s very subjective and this is where I slip into my true self. I’ve returned a dish with a book, candy, popcorn, a candle, some soap, hair ties that I crochet, cookies…

It’s like finding the right birthday gift for someone. But no pressure to wrap it and get a card and get the right date. Or send two cards to two friends who have birthdays very close together, and get them mixed up in the envelopes. Yes, yours truly has done that. Whew — good thing they like me and laughed at their cards misadventures. No, finding something to put in a returned dish has over the years become something of a hunt-and-peck adventure. It seems the best to give consumables. I mean, everyone eats, right? And it doesn’t have to be something elaborate. If I snapped my fingers in your face and asked you who makes the best cookies, bet you wouldn’t have to think. Then again, if I said who gave you that expensive smoked salmon mousse and brie cheese gift box, would you look at me and shrug? OK, maybe not smoked salmon but some other la-de-da food item. You get the meaning that I am meaning to mean. Right?

Just know that it’s the act of giving back that shows your thanks. Not what it is. Just that it is.

Trina lives in Eureka, Nev. Find her on Facebook, Instagram or Really!


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