I learned very early in my childhood not to expect any candy in my stocking other than a candy cane. As much as I loved chocolate, Santa would never leave me anything edible other than a tangerine and that blasted candy cane. Since he left me all the toys I’d requested when I visited him at Sears and Roebuck, I could never understand this obvious omission from my wish list.
Perhaps Santa knew something that I didn’t know as a child, but eventually discovered as an adult: Christmas candy isn’t really candy at all. It is a magic potion that turns otherwise sensible people into pitiful, helpless creatures for a short time.
How does this transformation occur? It usually begins as many things in life begin — with good intentions. Several years ago, I noticed that during the holiday season, red and green M&M’s were available in extra-large packages. I will never know why I had not noticed this before because I routinely stare at the candy section of the grocery store the way a cat stares at a mouse.
I reached for the bag, confident that I could bring this irresistible treat into my home without any problems. By the time I pulled into my driveway, I had already decided which bowl I would use for these morsels and where this bowl would reside in the weeks it would take us to consume this mountain of candy.
What a fool I was. Only now, years later, am I ready to acknowledge the danger I was exposing my family to by making these decisions. Anyone with any sense knows you cannot leave a bowl of unwrapped M&M’s on a table that everyone in the house walks by at least 10 times a day.
What was I thinking?
I quickly learned three important lessons in the hours following my foolish behavior. The first lesson is that, no matter how big an extra-large bag of M&M’s may look in your grocery cart, that mountain of candy will not take weeks to consume; I think we polished off our bag in less than two days. The second lesson is that it really is physically impossible to walk by a bowl of candy without eating some. If this is not one of Isaac Newton’s Laws of Motion, it should be. The third lesson is that there really is such a thing as eating too much chocolate. As the world’s most ardent lover of chocolate, I never thought these words would come out of my mouth, but now they have. My tummy and I stand corrected.
If you think I am unable to resist Christmas candy, allow me to tell the story of a family member with an even greater weakness than mine — our dog Tiger.
Tiger was a mutt who wandered into our lives when I was in my early teens. When she wasn’t napping under a smelly blanket, she was stealing food. She had a particular fondness for sweets.
At Christmas, my mother would put out candy that was a mix of non-chocolate confections that coalesced into something that looked and felt like the Rock of Gibraltar. One Christmas, my mother placed the bowl on a table next to a sofa, so Tiger had no trouble getting to it. Because the candy was all stuck together, Tiger consumed the entire contents of the bowl. To our surprise, she did not get sick, but she did drink a lot of water for the next two days.
Several years later, my boyfriend at the time gave me a giant box of Whitman’s chocolates for Christmas. I placed the box under the tree, never thinking that Tiger would disturb it. We went out to dinner, and when we returned, Tiger greeted us at the door with an expression of shame that all dogs wear when they have misbehaved. She had consumed every piece of candy. Once again, she did not get sick, but she did drink a lot of water afterward.
Tiger lived for many years after the Whitman’s episode. As far as I know, she never ate any more Christmas candy because we finally realized we needed to keep it out of her reach.
If only I had family members to hide Christmas candy from me, I too might go for years without any M&M’s holiday moments, but I must rely on self-control instead. Wish me luck.