“I just saw soap on a rope and thought of your Pop-Pop.”
My friend Gretchen texted this to me a few days ago while she was out Christmas shopping. It’s funny how our Christmas shopping and gift giving traditions can become so much a part of our holiday experience that even our friends know about them. I bought my grandfather, Pop-Pop, soap on a rope and Old Spice aftershave every year for about fifteen years I’d say. Gretchen has been on the quest for soap on a rope with me on more than one Black Friday morning. He’s been gone for three years, and boy do I wish I were still heading out to find it for him.
For my brother and me, when the Hickory Farms kiosk arrives at the Susquehanna Valley Mall not far from our hometown, memories of Pop-Pop always come along with it. For several years before he passed away, and when he wasn’t going through the Old Spice quite as quickly any more, Wes and I teamed up to get him a Hickory Farms Gift Basket for Christmas. At a certain point, as happens so often, my grandparents’ cozily cluttered house had no more room for “World’s Best Pop-Pop” mugs and “Gone Fishin'” wall hangings. Pop-Pop and Nana began telling us more stories behind their beloved antiques and heirlooms and sending us home with our trunks full every time we visited. And as they looked to pass along their treasures to us, our gifts to them became smaller and designed to bring joy we could share in the here and now. For a meat and potatoes, fishing and hunting, raconteur and all-around sport like Pop-Pop, a Hickory Farms Gift Basket was the perfect gift. Terrific for munching on while watching Lawrence Welk. Great to crack out and share when a neighbor stopped by. A satisfying evening supper on those days when the big meal was eaten after church on Sunday.
We were recently sent The Party Planner Gift Box, a gourmet sampler that includes a selection of sausages, cheeses, mustard and nuts. But much as I love Pennsylvania Dutch style Gouda, I didn’t open it immediately. To me, these gift boxes are meant to be shared. We’ll take it up to my in-laws on Sunday, and on Monday when we come back from the Christmas Eve service at a church that’s not my childhood church, accompanied my grown-up extended family and my daughter in her Christmas dress and shiny shoes, we’ll open each little snack package and spread it all out. When I think of noshing after the Christmas Eve service. I think of crackers and cheese. And Pop-Pop. He won’t be there. But after sixty years, Hickory Farms still will.
Some holiday traditions pass. Others stay on with us. But the people we shared them with never really leave us do they? As long as there’s soap on a rope on the shelves and beef sticks at the mall, our simple, sometimes silly, always heartfelt traditions and memories will stay with us. And that’s something Mama’s definitely gotta have.
Disclaimer: Compensation and products for review were provided by Hickory Farms via MomTrends. I received a free sample of the product for the purpose of this review and to facilitate a giveaway. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions of Hickory Farms.