Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Jelly Jars

I realized a few weeks ago that a very important item had disappeared from the grocery store landscape -- character-themed jelly jars. Growing up in the 1970s it feels like I drank most of my milk from Peanuts, Loony Tunes, and Flintstones jelly jars. Some of the scenes reminded me of scenes from Charles Schultz's television carton shows. I would gaze at the scenes while eating cinnamon toast and imagine my own dialogs for the depicted scene. I would imagine the scenes that lead to the depicted scene or what might follow the jelly jar vignette. Now, something that I thought would always be there has disappeared. No warning, no public notice. Just gone.

It is true that you don't know what you have until it's gone. I had assumed that my children would make it through their formative years drinking milk from jelly jars, a right of passage. In our house we have several small Welch's jars with Peanuts scenes circumnavigating them. Then there was the startling grocery store epiphany. At least we have a few jelly jars at home. Maybe they would be enough to leave an indelible mark on my children's psyches. Just maybe. But maybe not. Children make mistakes, they knock glasses off the table while innocently playing with their food. The dog breaks one making a lunge for a child's lunch. Things happen, things that cannot be undone.

Children should experience some fundamental things while working their way towards adolescence. Taking a lunch box to school, getting in a fight, making and losing a best friend, drinking milk from a jelly jar. Think of it. Jelly jars are a hip, lesson in recycling. I checked ebay for jelly jar auctions. Fantastic! There are several dozen jelly jar auctions; complete sets of Peanuts, Loony Tunes, Dr. Seuss, Flintstones, and others. The jars aren't very expensive. You can buy them for a few dollars but the shipping charges will likely exceed the auction price. I quietly wonder if I should buy and stockpile jelly jars as insurance against extinction.

Most families pass down fine china and flatware to their children and grand-children. Perhaps a hundred years from now, one of my great-grand-children will quietly enjoy drinking milk from a 20th-century, re-used jelly jar. Hopefully Oreo cookies and Moon Pies will still be around and not go the way of the do-do bird or character themed jelly jar.