(by Mir, from WouldaShoulda)
I associate both of my grandmothers with sugar; my memories of both are inextricably tied up with sweets. In the case of my father's mother, I suspect she had a sweet tooth, herself. At her house there was always a metal cookie tin on the coffee table, filled with some kind of cookie I can't quite remember. It was like biscotti—a less sweet, bar-type concoction (Dad? Help me out!)—and next to that, a glass candy dish always filled with a variety of individually-wrapped hard candies. We kids were not only allowed, but encouraged, to partake from either vessel as often as we wished. Grandma always worried that we were too skinny. This was great, because it meant we could always have more treats.
My mother's mother had diabetes, so maybe she'd had a sweet tooth earlier in life, but she was very careful with her diet (and I never saw her eat sweets) in the time with her that I remember. But at her house there was a buffet cabinet sort of around the corner from the dining room table, and the middle drawer was always stocked with fun-size candies. If we ate our lunches, we could choose one for dessert; I often debated the merits of the tiny pack of M&Ms (so many pieces!) vs. the mini-Twix (my favorite). After dinner Grandma always went for a walk, and if we went with her, when we got back we were allowed to have ice cream sandwiches.
It occurs to me that my children don't have similar associations with their grandparents; perhaps the days of "I love you, here's some sugar" are a thing of the past. Or maybe our parents are just sneakier than their parents about feeding the kids. Heh.
Still, maybe it's not an everyday thing, but I definitely believe in the healing power of ice cream for my children and friends when times are tough. It may not be the healthiest coping mechanism in the world, but it's not the worst, either. I remember a friend telling me a few years ago that eating ice cream engenders feelings of love in the person doing the eating; she recommended eating ice cream with the kids as a bonding experience. I wasn't going to argue. Hey, I'm for bonding AND eating ice cream, so win/win so far as I'm concerned.
This year has been crappy for my family, to say the least. My husband and I keep joking about how we're only one crisis away from morbid obesity, such is our propensity for emotional eating. (No, we're not really eating ourselves into ill health. But I'll confess that in times of stress I'm a lot more likely to reach for french fries and ice cream than, say, veggies and salmon.) On the one hand, I want to honor my general commitment to healthy eating as the smartest path towards a healthy body and mind, sure. On the other hand, there must be a valid reason why we crave sugar and fat—and why the people we love so often offer us those "bad" foods—too. Right?
Me, I'm trying to find the happy medium. Woman cannot live by ice cream alone, I know. But when I think back to those memories of love being tied up in sweetness, I can't believe the periodic indulgence is all bad. Cosmic contentment or whatever would be great, too, but sometimes you just need a treat when you've had a crummy day.
Do you have memories of loved ones who fed you special treats? Are high-calorie indulgences useful in moderation or am I just practicing denial via my taste buds?
(For More Mir, Go Here)