Family time, with a cherry on top

Certain traditions permeated my childhood and have seeped into the fabric of my present family life. One important custom followed every Sunday supper, when my father placed a jar of Sander's Hot Fudge sauce in a pot of warm water and prepared for our weekly ice cream sundaes. Almost any flavor of ice cream was passable, and we gleefully poured the steaming chocolate sauce over the melting mounds and heaped on the nuts.

When I left home, I unwittingly chose a small college that followed this same tradition on Sunday. My friends and I would forgo most of the evening meal and focus on the bowls offering chocolate, nuts, coconut, and marshmallow cream. We doused scoops of ice cream with whipped cream and inserted spoons.

Those elaborate ice-cream creations resided in my mind and surfaced when my soon-to-be husband and I were planning our wedding reception. What kind of cake should we have? We just could not decide, and suddenly we asked, "Why not skip the cake and concentrate on the most important treat ... the ice cream?"

Being a fruit farmer, my spouse prefers banana splits, so we altered the theme to make-your-own banana splits. Instead of visiting a bakery, we drove to our local dairy and bought five-gallon containers of our favorite flavors. Our guests rolled up their sleeves and dug in.

Twenty-five years later, our reception is still discussed at family reunions.

Naturally, when we adopted our two sons we asked the social worker, "Where can we buy them their first ice-cream cone?" It turned out that Colombians are more fond of fruit than ice cream, and that first cone had to wait. But we rectified that situation, and once we got home we pulled out our ice-cream freezer and taught those little fellows how to crank.

I suppose that, with a continuous flow of creamy treats, I should not be surprised by the large malted mixer currently residing on my front porch. Somebody was dumping this dairy-bar-size machine, and my sons claimed it. They repaired the machine's motor and tinkered with the mechanisms until its five remaining rods could stir. Because I have a small kitchen, the machine was banished to the porch.

My husband bought the boys a couple of tall, thick plastic tumblers, a pound of powdered malt, and several gallons of ice cream. Like alchemists, the three males in this family stand in front of their machine experimenting, finding just the right combination of malt, milk, and ice cream. They blend and stir. Gloating over their new toy, they tromp into the house for glasses and spoons.

Stationed around our kitchen table, my husband and sons comment on their creations, and they plot. They have plans, big plans, for how they will cool off during the coming summer's heat. Chocolate, strawberry, and even blueberry concoctions are mentioned.

Personally, I still prefer a hot fudge sundae, but the ice-cream malted that the lads offer me may be their variation of a strong family tradition.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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