Skip to content

Robert St. John

Restaurateur, author, enthusiastic traveler, & world-class eater.

The Basket and the Box

May 8, 2006

The Basket and the Box

My friend Wyatt became a grandfather last week.

I am beginning to come to grips with the fact that I am old enough to have friends that are eligible grandparents.

Before driving to Jackson to be present at the birth, I grabbed a large wicker basket from my house and traveled to the drug store to fill it with candy, chips, and cookies.

A basket full of junk food might seem like an unorthodox baby gift, but the basket wasn’t for the baby, but the mother, Wyatt’s daughter.

When my daughter was born, the best gift my wife and I received while in the hospital was a similar basket filled with candy, chips, and cookies. The basket was placed on a table in the corner of the room next to a pile of other gifts— flower arrangements, pink baby blankets, rattles, and booties— and went mostly unnoticed until 2 a.m. on the first night.

The baby was brought in for one of her many late-night feedings and my wife and I realized we hadn’t eaten all day. In the excitement of the birth, we had forgotten about food. We tore into the junk basket with abandon. Potato chips never tasted better. It was a simple, yet wonderful, gift from someone who had been in the same situation a few years earlier. After two long nights of multiple feedings, we had emptied the basket.

I love being a father. It is the best job I will ever have, and by far, the most important. I had wanted to be a father since I was a kid. My father died when I was six, and I guess I felt like I could fill a void by playing the role of something that I was never able to experience.

Even though I wanted badly to be a father, it didn’t happen until I was 36-years old. In all of the years I had dreamed about being a father— thinking about what it would be like, and how it would feel to have a child of my own to raise— there was no doubt in my mind that I would love my child. I had no idea.

When they placed my daughter in my arms it was like a box that had been hidden deep inside of me opened for the first time, and my capacity to love another human being became stronger and deeper than I ever could have imagined. Parents know exactly what I am talking about.

I knew I would love my children, though I had no idea of the depth of that love until the box was opened. There is no joy like the sheer joy that is the privledge of parenthood.

Last week in that Jackson hospital room, I was taken back to a moment almost nine years ago. My wife and I were sitting on a hospital bed, I was holding my daughter in my arms— a brand new life with fresh, pink skin, tiny fingers, wisps of dark hair, toes like her mama’s, and a head that smelled of lavender. We were eating chocolate chip cookies and staring at this wonderful little human being that seemed to have come from nowhere. Nothing in the world existed outside of that moment.

For Wyatt and his family, the box is open, again. Welcome to the world, Dylan Cade.

Recent Posts

Nobody’s Poet

In the late 1990s I was asked by my local newspaper to write a weekly food column. I politely declined…

Read more

Bad Food

It took me 60 years to start eating like an adult. I am 62 so I’ve only been eating responsibly…

Read more


Since 1999 I have written every week in this space, a thousand words a week, never missing a week. That’s…

Read more