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The Gift

Many years ago I was in a tough spot.

I had three small kids, was working full time, had a monster commute and was going through a painful divorce. Time was my enemy.

My days went something like this ...

After being up all night with the baby, my alarm would buzz at 4 a.m. I'd get everyone dressed, fed and out the door by 6:15. We'd rush to daycare, then I'd rush to make it to work by 8. Socked with a crazy workload, I skipped breaks and worked through lunch so I could leave by 5:15 and pick up the kids just before 6 p.m., minutes before daycare closed. Then I'd rush home to make dinner, do laundry, help with homework and get the kids bathed and into bed. And then I'd get to do it all over again the next day.

It was awful. I had zero time for myself, let alone meal planning and housework. I functioned on autopilot, fueled by Diet Coke and in a constant state of stress and exhaustion.

And then it happened.

I remember it distinctly. I pulled into my driveway one night, bleary-eyed and focused on my evening to-dos. It was dark and something on the front step shimmered as my headlights swept across the front of my house. I unbuckled the kids and waddled toward the door, loaded down with the infant car seat carrier and school backpacks.

On the step was a laundry basket and inside were three large casseroles in disposable aluminum oven pans. And a note. I don't remember exactly what it said, but it went something like this:

"Take a break from the kitchen and enjoy these meals. Relax. You deserve it."

I was overwhelmed with appreciation and relief. The gesture meant so much to me then -- and it still does to this day, nearly 10 years later.

I thought of that night recently, as I delivered a meal last week. The lady, a mom who recently returned to work after having her first child, told me she'd been up all night with her sick baby. She was exhausted, worried, and was leaving work early to take the baby to the doctor.

We talked for a little while, discussing strategies to ease her baby's discomfort and help everyone get some sleep. My four kids are older now and even though sleepless nights spent soothing sick babies are behind me, I remember how hard and hopeless it can feel.

As I handed over her meal, she said, appreciatively, "At least I don't have to worry about dinner tonight."

And that, my friends, is why I'm doing this.

There are times when life is so busy, so hectic, so stressful, that we badly need a break. We need somebody or something to lighten the load ... even just a little.

In the 10 years since I found three casseroles on my front step, I've dreamed (and schemed) of ways to help lighten the load for busy people like me. And that's how Cream City Casseroles was born ... out of a desire to help people take charge of their busy and often stressful lives.

And each time I make a delivery and see that look of appreciation and relief wash over a customer's face, I know I'm making a difference ... one casserole at a time.


  1. We recently ‘gifted’ Cream City Casserole entrees to two families, one to a single gal with an over-the-top work load and the other to a young mom suffering from the ‘blessings’ and tribulations accompanying a newborn baby. Both gifts hit the bulls eye.
    Think about it…a flower arrangement is a nice gesture, but all one can do is look at it. A fruit basket is good alternative but how just how many grapefruit can a person eat?
    A gift from CCC checks all the boxes. Jess provides an awesome presentation, the entrees are wholesome, home cooked and ready to eat. And the leftovers? Wonderful. What would you rather have? A microwaved Happy Meal that has the taste and texture of a new pair of jeans left too long in the clothes dryer, or a creamy casserole that gets better with the second re-heat, just like your mom’s was back in the day.

  2. I agree! Some of the most thoughtful gifts are ones that are practical/useful. Thanks!!

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