By Trea Byrnes
As I perused the multi-hued soft-pastel-colored candy aisles in Walmart over the weekend, filling my shopping cart with the requisite spring-themed version of the same naughty goodies, I realized with a sigh of relief that the upcoming Easter holiday marks the end of the 6-month candy ingesting season for me and my family.
One of the many childhood issues I ended up with as an adult is that I associate dessert with affection. In my mind, when we were good, we got to have dessert. When the Easter Bunny really cared, he brought me extra special treats in my basket.
I vividly remember the one year Santa did not love me. He gave me only carob balls and banana chips in my stocking. It was tremendously shocking, and I have a indelible memory of my stocking hanging on the wall in the month of April, drooping sadly in it’s former shiny green splendor, still laden with greasy banana chips four months later, never to be consumed.
That was a scarring experience of my youth that I promised I would never relive with my own offspring. Only the finest of genuine processed sugar for my boys!
Starting with Halloween, when the influx of candy is sudden and tremendous, it’s difficult to cope as an adult with no will power when it comes to ubiquitous treats. I have always been an avid treat consumer, and my two children are the genetically doomed offspring from a double whammy of parents who both balance precariously on the fine-edge of control when it comes to dessert.
As parents, after the first few go-ahead-and-eat-what-you-want binging episodes, my husband and I seize control of the trick-or-treating hoard. Because of this, my fourth-grade son started sneaking candy this year, but he is totally lacking in subterfuge skills.
For several weeks, I found stashes of loudly crinkling Smarties wrappers crammed into his pants pockets when I did the laundry. Miscellaneous candy wrappers would randomly blow across the lawn and driveway at odd times of day, much like the fall leaves, but a lot more jarring. We eliminated his access to his stash, so naturally he coped by stealing from his brother’s.
Did I mention the genetic sweet-tooth doom I have passed down?
A few weeks after the Halloween candy bonanza, the leftover loot goes down to the freezer in the basement “for parental emergencies.” My second grader was recently outraged to discover what was actually contained within the freezer. He lambasted my husband for his “secret candy stash,” and ranted about how unfair it was that we had a hidden cache of dessert.
Riley accused his father of sneaking down there on a nightly basis and stuffing candy in his mouth, which I’m certain my husband never does. I have yet to bump into him when I am down there sneaking MY candy, anyway.
About five years ago, one Thanksgiving, my husband, desperate to entertain our boys, decided to go out in the yard and hide the remnants of the Halloween candy under leaves and rocks. He then announced to the boys that the “Candy Bear” had come and they were going to go outside and track him.
Well, naturally this led to an annual tradition of tromping around the yard on Thanksgiving morning, collecting sugary crap. Born in desperation, we had YET another day to collect and hoard candy. This “Candy Bear” thing had a very flimsy origin and dubious credibility, even for 3 and 5 year olds. Talk about bad parenting! I think the year my husband sent his mother scurrying in a panic to the store on Thanksgiving to buy candy for the Candy Bear “hunt,” we scared even ourselves and put an end to that ludicrous November tradition.
No sooner do I finally stop sneaking the Halloween Twix bars from the frozen stash, and find myself slightly under control, when it is December, the month of indulgence. That is when I basically throw in the proverbial towel and purchase butter and chocolate. By the truckload. Who needs to button their pants?
After Christmas, we have a slight breather. Then the Valentine’s Day push begins. Have you noticed now that most Valentines for kids are sold in packs of 25 and contain sugary treats? It’s just more honest: No one really wants the little paper cards from their classmates anymore, right? I do cringe for weeks afterwards when my fifth-grade students come in with multiple packets of Fun-dip (Straight-up colored sugar crystals) for their snack, which they tend to start eating at 8 a.m.. Even I, admittedly lacking in parental skills, will not let my children consume those in public!
After Valentine’s Day comes the month of March. Thank goodness St. Patrick’s Day still revolves around bad Irish food and libations, rather than green candy. This year I was sorely tempted by an on-line cookie recipe made with light and dark green M&Ms, but I reached deep down for some moral fortitude and walked away from my computer.
At long last comes Easter. Now I do know that these holidays have much more history and significance than the sugar ingestion, but really, the revolving M&Ms colors truly mark the turning of the seasons. Easter will be the end. Then we move on to May, June, and the lovely following summer months that are free from colored-themed candy offerings at Target. Phew!
Not to worry though, there is always the freezer if I get truly desperate.