After more than five years of making sweet potato muffins and giving them to all of their teachers around the holiday season, my daughters and I decided to change it up this year in favor of a gift that took far less time but was just as special. This year’s gift was a quart-size, mason jar filled with lemonade made with rosemary from our front yard. This herb began as a seedling in an herb garden that we planted about 4 years ago in honor of our ancestors, including my late mother Diane, my great Aunt Eula B., and Great Grandma Willie. Today that seedling is a hearty, full-grown, evergreen bush that has withstood frigid temperatures, snow, and ice. It’s green and thriving and, according to lore, can live as many years as Jesus did–33 years.
Rosemary, a member of the mint family, which also includes lavender, basil, and thyme, originated in the Mediterranean. According to lore, planting it near entrances of homes will ward off nightmares, negative energy, and evil spirits. Though ours happens to be planted near our front steps, I did not have this lore in mind when we planted it. What fascinates me even more than the lore, are the purported nutritional benefits of rosemary, such as it being high in Vitamin C, iron, calcium and B6. As a result of such a nutritional make up, it lifts your spirits, increases blood circulation, improves mental alertness, and boosts immunity. I’ve been enjoying my rosemary lemonade since the summer, and I’ve noticed that I do have a lot more energy and alertness. To top it all off, I’ve not gotten sick at all this semester despite the germs, bugs, and colds that sometimes plague my middle school.
What brings me even greater joy than knowing the food that I put into my body is sharing that delicious knowledge with others, which is why each jar of lemonade was decorated with a rustic tie, a gift tag, and a card with holiday greetings, the benefits of rosemary, and the euphemistic serving suggestion, “mix it with your favorite beverage” — code for mix it with champagne, vodka, or gin. A serving tip I deemed inappropriate for a child to pass on to a teacher.
What brings me even greater pleasure than sharing food knowledge are the thank you’s combined with complements about the food. On the same day that my daughters delivered the lemonade to their teachers, I received a thank you mixed with a progress report about my older child, Yetunde, in biology, “First, I wanted to say thank you for the lemonade (smiley face). That was very thoughtful. . . Have a wonderful Holiday Season!! Ms. Pace.” Another thank you came the day after the lemonade was delivered via an email addressed to both me and my younger daughter, Niara: “Many thanks to you and your Mom for thinking of us this holiday season. Taylan and I just came home and he sat down to study for his exam tomorrow, and we poured ourselves two big glasses of lemonade…It’s delicious! We both loved it. . . Thanks so much, Ms. Ozdeger.”