Ah, glorious sugar.
Unless you’re Charlie Brown and unfortunate enough to get rocks tossed into your trick-or-treat bag, candy is your primary motivation on Halloween.
Everything else about the holiday leads to it. Sure, there’s the costumes and the scary stuff, but THIS is the night’s ultimate purpose, especially when you’re a kid.
I was a kid who loved candy. (Now I’m an adult who loves candy, but I try to resist because, ya know, health.)
But back then, I had a habit when it came to my haul. I’d sort it, and eat some, but I’d set my favorites aside. Reese’s peanut butter cups in particular (like the pumpkin-shaped holiday ones? So good!), or Reese’s Pieces, or caramel anything.
Anyway, I’d find my favorites, and — I wouldn’t eat them.
Sure, I wanted to eat them; but what if sometime later I really wanted to eat them? The perfect time would come, but it wasn’t here yet.
So I saved the best for last.
I saved them as the seasons changed. Halloween turned to Christmas. Then Easter rolled around, and still that candy sat in a bowl.
I didn’t know what qualified as the perfect time to eat them, so I kept waiting. It would come eventually, I figured.
Meanwhile, I’d already eaten the rest of my Halloween candy, the kinds I didn’t like as much. But my favorites, the ones I was most excited to eat someday, were still sitting unopened in the candy bowl.
Finally, as Easter passed, and the egg-shaped Reese’s peanut butter cups showed up alongside the pumpkin-shaped ones, my mom had to make an executive decision. The candy had outstayed its welcome, and I had to toss it, before next Halloween came.
You’d think after going through this, I’d learn to never save my candy for so long again. But you’d be wrong. This cycle happened year after year, from Halloween to Christmas to Easter, and a lot of my favorite, most treasured sugars ended up in the trash can.
I kept saving them for the perfect time. But the perfect time never came.
My stepkids don’t usually have this problem.
My husband and I found these giant Kinder eggs (hollow chocolates with little toys inside), and got one each for the kids. Normally, Kinder eggs are about the size of an actual egg. But not these. Oh no, we don’t do “small” in the Varosky household. These were ostrich-sized eggs. Which meant more space for a bigger toy inside — and SO much more chocolate on the outside. Go big or go home.
The kids were thrilled. They broke apart the shells and put together the toys, and my stepdaughter took a bite of the chocolate. She said she liked it — and she’d save it for later.
My first reaction was, “WAIT! NO! DON’T SAVE IT BECAUSE THEN YOU’LL NEVER ACTUALLY EAT IT!”
But I didn’t. I figured to wait it out and see how long she’d save it. Would it be months?
Knowing her, probably not.
And it wasn’t.
By bedtime that very evening, any evidence of the giant egg had been devoured.
She didn’t hoard it like I would have. She actually ate the darn thing, because she liked it and wanted to eat it. Go figure.
Sure, she could have saved it. And yeah, sometimes saving something for a little while to enjoy later isn’t the worst thing: Delayed gratification can make anything taste sweeter than indulging instantly.
But there’s definitely a distinction to be made between that approach, and saving the best for last. Because there’s always a chance that “last” will never come.
I ran across a quote from Mary Engelbreit that I love, and that actually inspired this column: “Don’t ever save anything for a special occasion. Being alive is the special occasion.”
Clearly I should have picked up on that when I was a juvenile Halloween-candy hoarder, but there’s still something to be said about that in regular life, too. As humans, we have a tendency to put things off. “Someday I’ll wear that nice outfit.” “Someday we’ll go do XYZ as a family.” “Someday I’ll go on that dream vacation.” “Someday we’ll bring the kids to see such-and-such.”
Yes, sometimes logistical or financial limitations put a pause on some dreams. I know that. But so often, the primary limiting factor is within our own minds.
Do The Thing. Don’t wait for, as Engelbreit says, a “special occasion.”
And don’t wait until Easter to eat your pumpkin-shaped Reese’s peanut butter cups, either.
Originally published in The Herald News on Oct. 28, 2018.