I was never a big fan of oranges growing up. I liked orange juice. I liked orange jello. I liked orange soda. I also truly enjoyed putting quarter slices of oranges my mom put in our sack lunches into my mouth and acting like an ape. That was fun.
The idea of eating an orange did appeal to me, though. I just never could get past the white pith inside the peel and how dang hard it was to peel an orange. Seeds, although a pain, were tolerable since they could be spat out either as projectile weapons against siblings/friends or, like the watermelon seed of summer, expelled for distance.
As an adult, I’ve turned my childhood dislike of oranges into them becoming a seasonal staple of my diet. What changed? First, the emergence of the navel orange gave the consumer a seedless, yet, delicious citrus product. Sure, one lost the necessary basic component of seed-spitting but gained threefold in pure edible joy.
The second, and most monumental, change occurred early in my teen years when dad taught me an orange peeling trick. It was brilliant. It was effective. It transformed me into an orange-loving citrus-phile. This food hack my dad showed me was to gently roll the orange around on a hard, flat surface with slight pressure. When performed properly, the white pith loosens from the fruit and makes peeling the orange a breeze. Over the years, I’ve found the technique also works by rolling the orange between your palms. It’s magic.
My dad was by no means handy or comfortable in the kitchen. He could hardly make himself a sandwich. When my youngest brother was born and mom had to stay a few nights in the hospital, I’ll never forget the meal dad made for the rest of us five kids that first night before grandma showed up to help. He browned a couple of pounds of hamburger. He put a piece of white bread on each of our plates. He scooped a serving spoon of hamburger on each piece of bread. To top off the delicacy, each plate got a healthy shot of ketchup over the mound of hamburger. We each put our heads down, side-eyed each other, said a prayer that mom would be home soon, and quietly and quickly ate.
Thanks to my dad, I have become a joyful eater of oranges. The fruit is one of the bright spots of winter for me and has been since learning the peeling trick. Dad simply taking five minutes one dark winter night after a long work day to show his kid a better way to peel an orange made a lifelong impact on me, my kids, and my grandkids. It’s one of the many pieces of him I carry with me to this day.
A small and seemingly insignificant piece of advice went a long way to enrich my life.
Think about that little nugget for a minute.
Small kindnesses can make huge impacts on people’s lives.