83: As American as Apple Pie?

83: As American as Apple Pie?

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Spirit of America

As American as Apple Pie?

In hospitality, the chief thing is the good will.

~Greek Proverb

Apple season in New Hampshire — there’s nothing like it. Apple picking, hayrides through the orchard, the taste of fresh, tart macs right off the tree, and the promise of homemade apple goodies to come. You arrive home with bags full of wonderful apples and the delightful task of deciding what to do with all that goodness. There are apple crisps, apple tarts, applesauce, apple cobbler — everything apple — but best of all is hot apple pie right out of the oven. It’s a time of cooking and baking and sharing with friends and neighbors. What a wonderful surprise to find a freshly baked pie left on your doorstep, and if the baker chooses to remain anonymous, trying to figure out who the giver is only adds to the fun.

When one of our church’s deacons asked if I thought the refugee family that had recently begun attending our church would enjoy finding an apple pie on their doorstep, I told him that was a wonderful idea. I had visions of Albert and Marie opening their front door to find a freshly baked pie on the porch and being delighted. I imagined their children enjoying the pie and thinking what a wonderful country they had moved to where people left delicious pies on your doorstep. What I never dreamed was that I could be creating a situation of crisis and fear.

Until the day I received the upset phone call in the church office. “Mrs. Edwards, this is Marie. We found a pie on our doorstep. Who would do such a thing?”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Well, we had no idea what could be in it. Could someone be trying to poison us?”

“Oh no, no one would do that to you here. What did you do with the pie?”

“We were afraid, so we got rid of it right away. Why would someone just leave something like that at our door without a note or anything to say who it was from?”

As I explained that the pie was intended as an act of kindness, and was meant to be a pleasant surprise and not something scary, I began to see the whole incident through Marie’s eyes. When you come from a place where you can be killed for your religious beliefs, where bombs are left on people’s doorsteps, where even items received through the mail must be treated with a measure of suspicion, an anonymous package of anything creates anxiety. Marie and Albert came from a place where a surprise is rarely a good thing.

I wrestled with whether or not to tell the baker of that pie what had become of her hard work and good intentions. I did make sure not to repeat that mistake in judgment again. There would be no more surprise gifts left on Marie and Albert’s doorstep, and deliveries would be made in person by someone they knew and trusted. And I am more thankful than ever that I live in a country where a fresh-baked apple pie on the doorstep is just what it should be — a sign that apple season has arrived in New Hampshire, and that someone wants to share that joy with me!

~Laurie Carnright Edwards

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