When I was 14, my godmother took me to visit New York City, where she was an ambassador to Lebanon and worked with folks at the United Nations. We toured the U.N. and I marveled at the languages I overheard but of course could not understand.
Then it was on to see the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty and of course, Macy's department store. We ate lunch at a sidewalk cafe, tasting some Lebanese dishes I never heard of but enjoyed just the same.
Later we walked into St. Patrick's Cathedral to offer a prayer for the late Robert "Bobby" Kennedy, whose funeral had been held there just the day before.
We then returned to my godmother's home in Rye, N.Y., where we took in a movie at the local cinema.
While on this whirlwind excursion - the first that involved a plane ride for me - my godmother had to go on a short business trip. While she was gone, I was sent to visit some family friends in Connecticut. As we drove closer to their home, I could not believe the beauty of the area, the circular driveways and well-tended flower beds.
The houses reminded me of something out of a magazine. There wasn't a playpen in the middle of the living room and there weren't any paper plates at the dinner table, even though it was summertime.
Coming from a large family, I thought everyone ate off paper plates when school let out. Who wants to wash dishes when you have more hours of daylight to be outdoors having fun?
When visiting one of the homes in that neighborhood I was welcomed into the kitchen while the adults chatted. As I looked around the pristine kitchen with its gleaming copper pots hanging from the ceiling I spotted the biggest glass cookie jar I had ever seen.
It was filled nearly to the top with Oreos. I figured these people were pretty well off, because who could afford that many Oreos? My mother bought those huge boxes of sandwich cookies that were heavy in sugar and lard and light on the wallet. Oreos were something you ate at someone else's house.
I still like those clunky old sandwich cookies and so do a lot of my fellow workers, as I recently discovered. I put a large container of the cookies on my desk to share with the staff and they disappeared in record time. No one, except Phyllis, could eat just one. You would have thought I had gourmet baked goods in that cookie jar.
Some people are judged by the clothes they wear or the car they drive. For others it's the amount of money they have in the bank or the size of their home. For me it's no longer the size or contents of the cookie jar. It's more about sharing what's inside that matters.
But those Double-Stuf Oreos do look tempting.
Heather Ziegler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.