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'Grandma's Cookie Jar'

My grandmother's cookie jar sat on a shelf in our cupboard. None of the smaller hands in our home could reach it, but it didn't really matter because there were seldom any cookies in that jar anyway.

Steeped in the long ago culture of being a farmer's wife, Grandma struggled with the lifestyle. Oh she loved the animals (especially the baby ones) on the farm, and her own little piece of heaven was her raspberry patch, where she could spend hours among the prickly branches and away from noisy children. But while one usually thinks of a farmer's wife as that apron-clad woman who could spend hours cooking and baking wonderful and delicious recipes, nothing could have been further from the truth. Don't misunderstand. Grandma could cook and bake like nobody's business, she just didn't want to ...

Which leads me back to her cookie jar, which was usually filled with anything but cookies. Thumbtacks, rubber bands, an extension cord, some labels off some cans or jars she was collecting for some benevolent cause, S&H Green Stamps, jacks, a squirt gun she confiscated ... the list of what lived at one time or another in her cookie jar was endless — minus the cookies.

I've spent years thinking about that cookie jar, always hoping there would be a slight chance a stray cookie may have found its way into the container. Carefully pulling that ceramic cookie jar off the shelf, I'd be disappointed more times than not, since a sweet treat was nowhere to be found. On the other hand, I often discovered items in the cookie jar that occupied a good share of my time as a child — a little of this, and a little of that — all combined and stirred together — and clearly a recipe for a young child's imagination to take off and run rampant. But like I said, many years have passed since I pulled that cookie jar off the shelf.

Fast forward to today ...

Those of you who have regularly read my columns since I first started putting pen to paper, fingers to keyboard, have done so for the nearly 20 years. Can you believe it's been that long? Twenty years times one column each week (for a couple of years I was writing three columns every week) equals more than 1,000 columns in my career.

Ironically just like the items in my grandmother's cookie jar, those essays have been just as varied — from walks down the proverbial Memory Lane to observations of today to thoughts about the future. My words have come from my heart — some happy, some sad, but I guarantee you that if you cried when you read one of my columns, I also shed some tears when I wrote it; and if my words caused you to laugh, there was, no doubt, a smile on my face when I penned that particular essay as well.

Through the years, I've had many folks who have asked me if I ever thought about writing a book, a collection of sorts from some of the columns I've written throughout the years. Quite frankly, it's been a dream of mine for a long time. But as elusive as that cookie jar was on Grandma's shelf, so was a book with my name on the front cover. It just wasn't meant to be ... until now.

In a couple of weeks, my first book will hit the streets. I've appropriately named it, "Grandma's Cookie Jar," and it's filled with a variety of items I hope you'll enjoy. Some of those essays are from the past, while others will be new to you. But new or old, it is a collection that has come from my heart — truly a dream come true.

I'll be having a book signing on Saturday, Sept. 7 at Hornbaker Gardens in rural Princeton.

This book is not only for you, but it's also because of you — our readers, my friends. My heart skips a beat or two every time I think about it.

I hope you're going to like what you find in "Grandma's Cookie Jar."

Tonica News Editor Terri Simon can be reached at tsimon@tonicanews.com.

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