Candies, cookies, cakes? I love them all.
I grew up in a house where fruit loops didn’t exist and white bread was junk food–we ate shredded wheat and whole grain bread, so that may explain some of my sugar obsession.
As a kid, Halloween felt like pre-Christmas. And I was surprisingly disciplined about eating my loot–I rationed it so I could extend my sugar happiness as long as possible. Each day when I got home from school, I would stick my head in the pillowcase and take in that sweet, sweet smell. I would eat ONE piece of candy and then hide the bag and repeat the ritual the next day. (Growing up with two older brothers forced me to hide my goodies, otherwise they helped themselves to my stash when I wasn’t looking.)
One Halloween, when I was nine years old, I had an especially abundant stash; after hours of trekking around the neighborhood with my family, I filled an enormous pillow case almost to the top. I was so proud!
When we all got back to the house, I traded the pieces I didn’t like with my brothers (necco candies, almond joys and tootsie roll pops). I then put all of the candy back into the cotton pillowcase and hid it at the bottom corner of my closet, away from the pillagers. I made that candy last all the way until Easter.
Yes friends, that was 6 months of controlled joy.
Then a horrible thing happened: one day close to Easter, I opened up a Baby Ruth and there was a funny coating on the chocolate. It was a sign that the chocolate started to break down (go bad?) and I was devastated! All I could think was: this wasn’t supposed to happen.
I had put off indulging in the candy and giving it to others to enjoy too; by trying to stretch out my happiness, I never experienced the moment of ecstasy a nine year old gets from having all of that candy. Because I had rationed my joy, I never fully experienced it. And now it had to be thrown away.
The candy episode made me realize that happiness naturally comes and goes. That sweet nine year old version of me was taking for granted that the candy would be around for a long time and because of that, I tempered my glee. But even joy has a shelf life; If you don’t enjoy it when it arrives, you can miss out on it entirely.
Certain moments were meant to burn brightly in our lives and after those moments, we were meant to move on to experience a different burst of joy. Hoarding any kind of happiness (or candy) only dims the light of it.
So now every year when Halloween rolls around, I gorge on my favorite candy for a few days, share it with everyone who loves candy too, and then I move on. It gets me totally psyched to do it again the next year–and that feels pretty great.
Where in your life are you delaying your joy?