Today, as I write this, it’s Good Friday, and for the rest of us, it’s the 72-hour notice: Candy Season is almost over. Enjoy the Cadbury eggs while you can, because after Easter Sunday, there’s no more candy until Halloween (which now begins in September, replacing the Back to School sales, which now begin in July.)
Having grown up in a secular, agnostic household (that’s what you get when Catholics and Jehovah’s Witnesses marry — religious détente), Easter at our house meant wonderful, colorful baskets filled with sugary delights. My childhood Easters tasted like jelly beans. Particularly the pink and purple ones.
But, as both my parents were doctors, that Easter candy had to be savored because there’d be no more candy in the house until Halloween. The only way to score any candy in between was by stealth — pocketing our milk money and riding our Stingray bikes to the drugstore to hoard Firestix and green apple Bub’s Daddy and Necco wafers. (Dibs on the brown ones.)
Hats off to you if you ever succeeded in getting an entire Bub’s Daddy into your mouth all at once, bite by bite, without choking. In fact, hats off to you if you even remember what Bub’s Daddy is.
Theoretically, our Christmas stockings should have provided a midterm candy fix, but my mother (a Jehovah’s Witness apostate) wasn’t really down with decking the halls. She went through the motions, though, because all good little secular agnostic children must learn of Santa Claus, who rewards nice, well-off children and ignores the naughty ones on food stamps. (No, that wasn’t her version, but I figured it out later.)
So — presents, yes. Christmas stocking candy? Not so much. Dr. Ex-JW Mom put tangerines and mixed nuts in our stockings, and a handful of that spiced Christmas candy that looks like crumpled striped ribbons. Blech.
However, Mom redeemed herself at Easter. That was our major candy indulgence. I have so many happy Easter candy memories, like those hollow sugar eggs with a little Easter bunny scene inside — much too pretty to actually eat. Do they even make those anymore? I haven’t seen one since I saw a real Slinky, which, in the 1960s, was a spiral of sharp metal that pinched your armhairs off when you wore them as bracelets and if worn as necklaces, could strangle you or slit your throat if they caught on something. Old-school Slinkys were good, proper, intrinsically dangerous toys, not those namby-pamby plastic things kids get now.
And by the way — those Stingrays we rode? No helmets, no kneepads, no elbow pads, no parent hovering 5 feet away. If we crashed, we crashed, and if we broke an arm, we paid a visit to my mom or dad. Kids wearing casts were quite common back then. No big deal. Nowadays, you rarely see casts, because today’s parents raise their children in protective plastic bubbles and a skinned knee is a medical emergency, not a part of everyday life.
Brush it off, spray some Bactine on it, and get back out there and play.
Today’s parents … raising a generation of cream puffs, you are.
Yet, surprise, surprise, I digress.
Back to the candy.
So, my mother — a doctor, an ex-Jehovah’s Witness and also Scottish (now you’re getting a fuller picture of how deeply the “no fun” ran in her) — for whatever reason, did A-OK on Easter. Maybe it was because Easter packed less residual guilt, being the only holiday her family openly celebrated besides Thanksgiving. (And I must emphasize: this is my personal experience with my Jehovah’s Witness half, not yours. Your Jehovah’s Witness family may have weekly hootenannies, but mine didn’t. “Joy” wasn’t part of their world. The most celebratory it ever got was “pleasant.” But at least, on Easter, they had ham. Quietly. And pleasantly.)
One year, Mom took me to the park for an Easter egg hunt. I was about 4. I had a cute little Easter basket, and childhood memories being peculiarly selective, I remember the beds of green ivy around the lawn, and how the big green leaves came nearly to my knees.
Yeah — I was that small.
The other thing I remember is that the whole experience was a disaster.
They yelled “Go!” and all the kids rampaged forward. One big buffalo of a boy trampled me flat. As the others frantically scooped up colored eggs, I just stood there crying. When I calmed down to mere choking sniffles, Mom encouraged me to look and see if we could find an egg. We did: A smashed hardboiled egg that someone stepped on. I started crying again.
This was my first, and last, Easter egg hunt.
Motherhood: Sometimes it all just blows up in your face. At least that hasn’t changed.
My Easter egg hunt trauma that year was mitigated by the most amazing Easter basket ever. Besides candy and colored eggs, there was a big blue inflatable bunny hidden under the plastic grass. Nothing eases the pain of Easter egg hunt trauma like a big blue bunny. And candy. Lots of candy.
So, while some will spend today, Good Friday, solemnly commemorating the unjust, tragic, horrific slaughter of arguably the greatest teacher and thinker in all of human history (I may have been raised agnostic, but I know genius when I see it), me, I will buy jelly beans. And by the time you read this, I will have eaten most of them. Because there will be no more candy until Halloween. The rule still stands, and I don’t have a Stingray anymore. Besides, six months of deprivation makes the mini-Snickers ever so much more delicious in October.
Ready, set go. It’s Easter Sunday. You have until midnight to scarf down the last of the Cadbury eggs. But no tears, my dears. The end of Candy Season means the beginning of Beer Season. We shall endure.
— Email Debra DeAngelo at [email protected]; read more of her work at www.wintersexpress.com and www.ipinionsyndicate.com