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Mixed Nuts

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My mother, God rest her soul, always kept a wooden bowl of mixed nuts on her coffee table at all times. Anybody and everybody that came over went for the nuts. Mother would start immediately saying, “Now don’t get them shells everywhere and don’t eat too many.” By the time we all were ready to leave, the nut shells were catching on fire from putting out the cigarettes. Walk through the house and step on a shell; now that hurt like the dickens.

My aunt, God rest her soul; she had the same wooden bowl of nuts, and she would tell you, “Don’t eat any of those; they look pretty in that bowl.” If you were lucky enough to get some, she threw her shells in the wood stove. Smart idea. She had another idea to dig her dirt basement out for more space. She dug it out all right with a hand shovel and one day I saw her digging with a big spoon. While she was digging, I was eating nuts and throwing the evidence in the wood-burning stove.

My grandmother, God rest her soul, had that same wooden bowl full of nuts, except she would place wrapped candy around in it, which made it more enticing. She liked those big ones, the hardest ones to deal with. She would say, “Somebody crack me one of those big ones, and I want it whole.” Do you know how hard it is to get those out, period? You have to use those diggers; that’s what we called them. She would eat that one and ask for another one, and that gave me no time to get one. I couldn’t win for losing.

My husband, God rest his soul, would get into our wooden bowl of nuts. He was amazing; he only had use of one arm and he would some how crack those nuts. There were plenty of times I would come home from work and all of those nuts would be gone. Shells everywhere like it had snowed shells. I would be purchasing nuts about 2–3 times per week.

My son-in-law, God rest his soul, would eat nuts from his wooden bowl and throw shells at you for plain meanness. He was something else, kept us all laughing all the time, but we would have to get up all those shells. This meant moving furniture, looking under couch cushions, on the tables and all. He was the fastest nut-cracker I ever saw.

My girlfriend, God rest her soul, would have to crack the nuts for a friend of hers, and that friend would have to crack nuts for a friend of hers, and so on and so on. It was wild. You might say we had a nut-cracking party. God rest your nutty souls, and me and mine have all your wooden bowls.

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