I love Cracker Jacks. A lot. When I was a little girl they used to have prize- really exciting prizes like rings, and puzzles, and compasses, or better yet, compass rings. To a little kid, the Cracker Jack was the ultimate snack- sugary peanuts and popcorn and a prize. Ultimate. And though I do still love Cracker Jacks, the excitement of eating them has faded as the prizes have become more and more of the temporary tattoo variety and less of the compass variety.
I thought all the Cracker Jack prize joy was over. A sad part of growing-up. How wrong I was.
Today, I ate lunch with my Grammy and Popsie. Usually, we eat lunch with a lovely, feisty, sassy, intelligent, and above all chic woman named *M. I can’t get enough of her company. I want to be just like her when I’m her age. It’s like eating lunch with a hybrid of Carol Burnett and Audrey Hepburn. Today at lunch I noticed M. was wearing a gold ring I had never seen before. I really liked it a lot and told her so. She took it off and gave it to me. Seriously.
I was shocked. Of course I couldn’t accept such a generous gift, but as soon as she put it into my hand, I realized it wasn’t gold at all. She smiled at me and said, “Keep it. I got it out of a Cracker Jack box in the 40’s. ” WHAT? First of all, that ring was in unbelievable condition for being 70 years old. And second of all, what? I mean, actual dollar value of the ring aside, that was still an incredibly generous gift. She much have kept it all those years for a reason.
I never found out the reason- and actually I like the mystery of it. But, at M’s insistence, I did accept the ring. In one spontaneous moment- all of the Cracker Jack prize joy I knew as a kid flooded back to me. And not just that- in one single moment all of the negativity and frustration I had been feeling evaporated. Who knew a Cracker Jack ring could be so powerful?
Eat some Cracker Jacks today. Sure, the prize might not be anything better than a temporary tattoo (although, that could be pretty sweet) but try to remember what it felt like when you were a kid and opened up a delicious snack and got not only that, but a prize as well. Think about how it made you feel. And if you aren’t a Cracker Jack eater – maybe just try to remember what small thing brought you great joy as a child and try to hold on to it throughout the day.
Sometimes I don’t believe in magic. But then I get a 70 year old Cracker Jack ring.
*M. isn’t her real name. I didn’t want to violate her privacy. I hear people don’t like that.