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My grandmother Hibbard kept a stash of Hershey candy bars in her dresser drawer. I found the rich brown wrappers that she kept there in case she had a diabetic blood-sugar dip. I only remember her sharing them with me one time. I was in first grade and living with her because my mother had gone to the hospital with a serious infection. For the duration of my mother’s illness, my older brother and I stayed with Grandma Hibbard. She packed my lunch every day. One day, I opened my metal lunch box to discover a huge chocolate Hershey bar resting on top of my sandwich. Grandma had raided her hidden stash just for me.

Grandparents have their stashes for personal use and sharing. Grandma Waight kept a stash of oatmeal cookies inside a silver roll server with a lid. Most Sunday nights we visited and watched Lassie. (My parents chose to not own a television.) One at a time, we five children slipped quietly into the kitchen, lifted the lid on the metal dish and snagged a cookie. No matter how carefully we put the lid back, it dinged. “Someone just took a cookie,” Grandma often commented.

No noisy cookie container resides on the counter at my house. During the first years of grandchildren I made double batches of three or four kinds of cookies and left platters of cookies on the counter. I enjoyed any remaining after the grandkids left.

Evidently, years have drained my energy. A couple days before my granddaughters’ recent visit, I made one batch of peanut butter cookies. Then just minutes before they arrived, I made a batch of chocolate chip cookies.

Katie didn’t care how many batches I made, she just wanted to know, “Can I have a cookie?”

“Yes, help yourself. They are cooling on the counter.”

She returned holding a half eaten cookie and big smile between chocolate smears on each cheek. By the time she left, only the peanut butter cookies remained in my stash to fulfill my husband’s frequent dinner question, “do you have a cookie?”

Most of the time the grandparents’ homes are ready for tiny visitors, but occasionally curious grandchildren open a forbidden door or get into mischief. I blush to confess that describes my child who saw no problem with opening the upright freezer door at a grandparent’s home and perused the contents without permission. Frozen blueberries looked like a delicious treat to eat while laying on the floor reading a book. That totally shocked her grandmother. Grandma had never had a child do that before.

Then there was the stash of loose change which one grandmother kept in an open dish until a visiting toddler sampled the pennies like M&Ms. Immediately, that stash went into an inaccessible hiding spot.

Our own curious (nosey) grandchildren have discovered future gifts that way. To channel their energy, I keep a stash of various entertainment options. During her recent visit, Caroline found the Halloween decoration kit I bought several months ago thinking some child would find it. She asked, “Can I put this together?”

“Certainly.”

Daisy came over to help.

“I want to do it myself,” Caroline insisted until the parts and pieces did not cooperate. She shoved aside the foam gate, “It won’t work.” Only then could Daisy and Katie help. I threaded foam pieces to hang. Daisy helped with stickers and Grandpa found the glue. Katie arranged stickers on the fence. I tried positioning it, “Hmm, I think you need to get some pins to make it stay.” They all knew where to find the pins from having explored my stash of fabric and notions.

This grandma keeps stashes of toys, snacks and craft supplies handy – to entertain and feed any visiting grandchildren.

Joan Hershberger is a former staff writer for the El Dorado News-Times and author of “Twenty Gallons of Milk and other columns from the El Dorado News-Times.”

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