Your Most Memorable Act

Last year, my daughter’s teacher asked me to provide some healthy Halloween treats for the 2nd grade party.  Everyone knows how terrible I am at anything involving baking, crafts, or decorating.  I try, but when it comes right down to it, I’m just not good at these things.

Halloween Boo Platter

I am good at words, though.  And I recalled the wisdom of my friend in Texas who says firmly, “Heather, God gave these children to you.  You are the perfect parent for them.  Your gifts are perfectly matched to their needs.”  So this time last year, I arrange some vegetables in the shape of the word, “Boo.”  I have no idea what I am doing.  I take some foil, make a pattern, and fill it in with vegetables.  That’s about as crafty as I get.

The Boo Platter

Despite my anxiety about this platter (was it cute? would the children love it?), I bring it to the school party.  My daughter beams.  Children come over to read the word, and they laugh and eat vegetables because they are in the shape of a word.   It isn’t even that beautiful as you can see by this photo. (Feel free to comment to make me feel better about this). 

Story over.  A year goes by.

This week, my daughter bursts from the school doors and calls out, “Mom, I signed you up to make treats for the Halloween party.  Everyone wants the Boo Platter!  Let’s make another Boo Platter!”  She’s holding my hand, staring up into my face, and talking about this Boo Platter like it’s become a public school legend.  

I wake up this morning and arrange the foil in the shape of a word.  It might be the most important thing I do today, the thing that matters as the years go by.  God made me a certain way, and when I act out of that authentic self, I leave a beautiful mark.  A simple embellishment–in my style–to a platter created a memory–a tradition–that children remembered and needed.   These small acts that I think make no mark, that make no difference, that seem silly and awkward and out of place, actually embed themselves in neighborhood memory. 

Living with flair means pressing on in small embellishments that flow from my personality that help shape a family and a community. Sure, some other parents made more creative and impressive things, but what my children remembered and love was a word.  Because that’s me. 

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  1. I came here via the NYT because I had to see this Boo Platter. I love your platter, too! And your comments along side have brightened my mood- thank you.
    I have 2 children- 7 and 10- and I am generally feeling like I am not doing enough to enrich the holidays with craftiness. I am too practical to come up with things beyond what is genuinely useful. But your Boo Platter is fantastic! I am going to give it a try at our house this weekend- chips, carrots, celery (for my hubby and me) and dip.

  2. I also came via the NYTimes and applaud your Boo platter and for realizing that when you are authentic, your true self you leave a beautiful mark. I need to remember and celebrate this too!

  3. Heather, I adore your BOO platter! I am the least crafty person in the world…and I'm afraid I just must steal your idea. I hope you don't mind…you know what they say about imitation and flattery… This will help me justify sending sugar-laden, box-mix cupcakes for the party tomorrow, particularly since I grow organic vegetables! EEK. (I'm such a hypocrite.) Thanks so much for sharing, and I look forward to reading more of your blog!

  4. Heather, I stink at crafts, all kinds. And, like you, I've discovered that my kids don't actually need a bunch of fancy stuff–they are happiest when I don't take myself too seriously, and when I let them help. That's what works. 🙂

  5. Absolutely terrific! I'm 72; only had one child but simply adored her & tried hard to be a good mother; and lived a hectic, demanding professional life. But last week my daughter told me about several of the things she remembered from childhood that made her think I lived with style, made her life so much richer, and created strong family happiness. For you, this is one of those things. Congratulations. And may you hear about it when you are 72!

  6. At an annual family reunion to which we went as children and teens, each year people were asked to share their hobbies. Most of my aunts and cousins were crafty, with knitting, needle-point and decorative crafts galore. I was/am a reader. One year, I shared a book. I feared ridicule. I presented my contribution thus: “This is about sharing hobbies. Reading is my favorite hobby and I am sharing one of my favorite books in this spirit” or words to that effect. It put everyone off guard; a kind aunt expressed delight to get my book. Indeed, I need to more consistently act out of my authentic self. Thank you! BOO!

  7. I am another visitor from NYT. I love your Boo Platter. I can't wait to use the idea for another holiday.

  8. What our children like and remember can truly surprise us – so glad your BOO platter made a wonderful memory for so many people!

  9. Hi Heather,
    Don't remember how I found and bookmarked your site but I am enjoying your writing (as one writer to another). As much as I appreciate the story, I really like the way you told the story. Thank you. Keep up all the good stuff: making memories, writing your stories, being with your children, etc. etc.