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May 09, 2004: Hey mom. This spud's for you

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Little kids have been making crafts for their moms for Motherís Day presents for years. They do them in Sunday school, or in preschool or elementary school. They usually involve a lot of paste or some form of cheap plastic trinkets, and sometimes flowers and other once-living components. And every once in a very long while they might just possibly also involve something that one wouldn't normally expect. Such as, perhaps, potatoes.

My mom likes to tell the story of a particular Motherís Day present she got from me, back when I was in preschool. We are none of us entirely sure just what the teacher had been thinking when it came to her choice of craft materials. Necklaces made of food are a common thing for little kids to make, after all Ė cereal and candy being the prime ingredients. But this particular Motherís Day I apparently came home from preschool and proudly presented my mom with a necklace made from chunks of potato. Raw potato. And a lovely raw potato necklace I am sure it was.

My mom, being a good and understanding mom, wore it and gushed over it and then did what moms usually do with such offerings, which is to stick them somewhere hidden in the house and wait for the kid to forget about the hideous thing so that they can eventually throw it away before it attracts ants or worse. Except that in this case she left it in its hidden spot too long and the potatoes started to go bad. Imagine, if you will, a necklace of slimy, rotting chunks of potato. Hey, *any* little kid can wheedle her dad into buying mommy diamonds for Mother's Day. It takes only the truly gifted to give her mom rotten potatoes.

Fast forward to this year, as I was shopping for my mom for Motherís Day. Iíd heard about a particular book on NPR - Founding Mothers, by Cokie Roberts Ė and it sounded like something I knew my mom would enjoy. So I headed off to Borders on the way home from work earlier this past week to buy the book.

While I was standing in the line to check out, I saw a display of those little kits-in-a-box. They have spas in a box, yoga in a box, and tranquility gardens in a box. In fact, I am sure at some point they will have entire six-course meals in a teeny little box too. However, one in particular caught my eye. ďZen Without the WaitĒ, the title screamed at me in big, bold letters. I picked it up. I pondered the fact that we just happened to have a few potatoes at home that were decidedly past their prime. My mind wandered back to the story of the oh-so-memorable necklace from days of yore. I started to giggle.

My mom got the book for Motherís Day. But she also got two additional little packages. One of them was a slightly wrinkled, and sprout covered red potato (wrapped in lovely purple tissue paper and tied with a shiny purple bow, too!). The other was that little box. After all, nothing says love on Motherís Day like a slightly old potato. And once the one I gave her decides itís done with the sprouting and the Zenning, perhaps she can thread it on a cord and wear it around her neck. Itíll be just like old times. I think it was meant to be.

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