It All Started With A Sucker (An Easter Story)

It All Started With A Sucker: An Easter StoryI’m excited about  “It all started with a sucker (an Easter Story).”

It’s a long story.  It’s about Easter, even the parts where I talk about American Flags and Nativity Sets and Chic-Fil-A.

If you get lost somewhere in the middle, just remember that I waited to tell the story until I could end it with something beautiful.

I waited to share the story until it came full circle and could point back to Easter.  I wanted to be able to say

And then, it’s beautiful.

At the very end, I do.

I struggle with Easter Candy.

It's a story about Easter.  Honest.I’ve been struggling with Easter Candy for years now. Not the normal stuff that gets crammed inside of Easter Eggs or even the hollow chocolate bunnies with the oh-so-yummy-ears.

My struggle isn’t about counting calories or controlling sugar or a desire to eat only real foods. If only it had been that simple.

For the record, I use plastic eggs. Most of them are empty. I have the kids trained to believe that the thrill is in the hunt, not in the candy.

Please don’t tell them any different.

I had a problem with candy that is shaped in a religious symbol. It took me FOUR YEARS to work through this and find peace.

It all started with a sucker.

My youngest son, GoGo was three at the time the whole thing started. After a whirl-wind tour of two preschool parties for both kids, I loaded them into the car.

The boys both started to go through their “loot bags” from their parties as I left the parking lot.

GoGo’s bag had a red cherry lollipop shaped like a cross in it. To complicate things, someone had attached Jesus in white chocolate attached to the front of the cross. Not just a simple figure of Jesus, one with all the details drawn in with colored bits of white chocolate.

I’m not kidding.

When I first saw it, my thought was

are you supposed to eat that?

Then I wondered if the kids would ask similar questions. I began to imagine the questions my children might ask and rehearse my answers to them.

Then, the snarkiness kicked in. I got carried away and began to ask my own questions.

  • Is that how you get the Holy Spirit inside a little boy?
  • Would it make my child behave better if he “got a little Jesus inside him?”
  • Does candy made to look like Jesus make it OK to eat, even if you’re a clean eating real food kind of family?

I took a deep breath, and decided to keep my snarky thoughts to myself.

(My kids don’t appreciate snarky, they just get confused when I try to explain why I think I’m funny.)

Anyway, GoGo unwrapped his sucker in the car, took a few licks and proclaimed it to be

YUCKY.

So, he did the most logical thing, he handed it over to his big brother.

Watty was all of four at the time, but he was definitely the more experienced candy connoisseur in the backseat of my car.

(If you’re freaked out at the idea of my kids sharing a single sucker, calm down. They’re sixteen months apart. These boys shared pacifiers and baby bottles too. It was normal.)

Watty tasted it and agreed that it was, indeed, gross. You know what comes next.

Mom, what do I do with this?

I’m driving down the road and am now in charge of yucky candy disposal.

ninja motherhood skills(Road – ha! It was four lanes in each direction separated by a suicide lane. Candy handling on that road earned me an advanced badge of motherhood ninja skills.)

To be honest, all I really cared about was making sure that it didn’t end up getting ground into the carpet or stuck in my hair.

I grabbed the first thing I saw (an empty box from Chick-Fil-A) and handed it back.

As I was handing it to Watty, I realized I’d skipped past the soul-less McDonald’s napkin in favor of a more God-loving CFA box.

Yeah.

a Jesus themed lollipop.  seriously.I had seriously evaluated the “holiness” of various fast food establishments to find the appropriate container for a Jesus themed Lollipop.

(note to the lawyers at McDonald’s: I am not suggesting there is anything wrong with your fine establishment. We eat there regularly. My kids are big fans of your work, particularly when they call you a toy store.)

Apparently, I wasn’t alone. Watty plopped the sucker in the box and proclaimed it to be the “Jesus Coffin.”

More specifically, he said

look GoGo, it’s a Jesus Coffin. I buried it in the tomb. It will rise again in three days.

(The child was FOUR. I confess a tiny part of myself had a moment of pride when I realized my child had internalized the Easter story so well. The rest of me was horrified and looking for lightening strikes.)

Five days later, the CFA box was still sitting in my car.

Easter was over. Everyone else had moved on.

Except me.

(Contrary to my son’s prediction, NOTHING happened on the third day after entombing the sucker. Much to my relief, the kids had forgotten the silly thing the instant they got out of the car.)

I had a five-day-old sucker in my car, wrapped in a week old box that originally held chicken nuggets. And I didn’t know what to do.

It doesn’t feel right to just toss it in the trash, not after my child had labeled it the “Jesus tomb”. I certainly didn’t want to store it with the Easter decorations.

i didn't know what to do with an Easter sucker.No one wanted to eat it.

Hubby was in favor of tossing it in the trash until he heard the story.

(I don’t blame him. It stunk!)

Then he wished me good luck in figuring out the right answer. It’s not that he was being unhelpful.

He understood that the real issue was bigger than a moldering cardboard box.

I asked a friend, and she suggested that I

just bury it in the ground.

(That was really confusing. It was already a “Jesus tomb!” It was just too much. Really.)

I posted my problem to Facebook.

dear facebook - i'm sorryNo one would touch it. Can you blame them? I only got one response.

“Wow. That’s deep.”

(I should apologize to my Facebook friends. Existential dilemmas don’t belong on Facebook.)

She was right. It was deep.

(This was also around the time that my friends began to gently suggest that I look into blogging. I appreciate their subtlety.)

On the surface, it was a mom trying to deal with clutter. But at a deeper level, I had bigger issues.

(Yes, I have issues.)

In many respects, this is just another in a long series of dilemmas.

These are all dilemmas I have created for myself. I have no one to blame but myself.

It goes back to the Nativity Cookie Cutter set.

is it ok to eat cookie shaped like JesusThe set makes the whole nativity scene. Camels, wise men, sheep (very cute when frosted and then rolled in toasted coconut flakes), Joseph, Mary, angels, and baby Jesus.

I made the full set once, and very carefully decorated each one.

Baby Jesus got a crown of silver balls. I made lots and lots of sheep for the family to eat.

Then reality struck.

  • What was the proper way to handle the Holy Family?
  • Specifically, was it OK to eat Baby Jesus?
  • Was he like a giant communion wafer?
  • Was throwing away the uneaten cookie worse or better than eating it?
  • If you did eat it, do you bite the head off first like we did with the sheep?
  • Or was I over thinking things just a tiny bit (yes!!!!).

In desperation, we crumbled up the cookie and fed it to the birds.

(I have used the cookie cutters since. We just don’t make a baby Jesus cookie. That works for us.)

Hmmm, maybe I should have put the cross sucker out to feed the ants…. no.

(The visual of a tiny cross on the top of an anthill is just too much. There are lines I don’t want to cross. Ever.)

Then there are all those art projects.

i feel guilty about throwing away artThe decorated crosses, the cross boxes, the paper cutouts of the Holy Family. A few of them are treasured mementos.

Several dozen of them are a bit much.

I feel guilty when I throw away my children’s art projects anyway, but when they are “Jesus art” it doubles the guilt.

I tried the “Christmas tree solution.”

I kept anything that can remotely be turned into a Christmas ornament. I had a special mommy tree that is covered with their art projects and small, framed photos of Christmas memories.

I know it wasn’t pretty and it annoyed my husband. But I avoided any questions from my kids about why I threw away baby Jesus.

in the end, even Jesus art can be come clutterI had to quit when the weight of the paper made the tree fall over.

In the end, even “Jesus art” can become clutter.

I have the same issue about the American flag.

You know those tiny little flags that are toothpicked onto cupcakes?

I was still mulling over the whole candy cross debacle when Memorial Day hit.

(You know? The first of three flag oriented holidays.)

My sons both got a cupcake with a tiny American flag on a toothpick stuck to the top of it.

They handed me the toothpicks and moved on.

Here ya go mom!

Between Memorial Day and Flag Day and July 4th, the tiny flags piled up.

I let them pile up in the drawer until I could safely burn them.

its hard to fold those tiny flags.

(They are representations of the American Flag! The law about how we dispose of flags doesn’t specify size limitations. I looked.)

And folding those tiny flags using the prescribed triangle method? That’s impossible.

(Yeah. I’m weird.)

I was so totally wrapped up in the legalistic trap I’d set for myself. At the time, it didn’t even seem silly.

I thought everyone else was missing out on a big important truth in life.

I wondered if anyone else worried about this stuff.

It may sound strange, but I put some serious thought into the whole thing.

  • Do the marketing people who dream up these products every worry that they are being sacrilegious?
  • Do the stores worry about disposing of ruined merchandise in a respectful manner?
  • Do you have to pray before you work on the manufacturing line that makes little crosses?

an existential haze.  seriously.I walked around in an existential haze. My philosophy professor from college would have been so proud of me.

(Or maybe not. I got a “C” in that class because I refused to question the existence of God and told him his class was boring.)

The point is that I let this get to me.

Not just once. I got bogged down in this mess for several Easters and Chistmases and even July 4ths.

It took a long time for me to figure out how to reconcile my desire for holiness with the realities of being a mom.

Don’t write this off.

Before you write this off as silly, go back and read the Old Testament. Look at the elaborate requirements to touch any part of God’s Temple or the Ark of the Covenant.

When did that change?

(Hold on. Don’t jump ahead of me. Us slow thinkers need time to jump to conclusions. Just… wait for it. It’s worth it.)

The truth is that for three years, the story pretty much ended here. I couldn’t figure it out.

I couldn’t see past my question.

When did that change?

Until I could figure it out, I was stuck.

I finally threw the cross shaped sucker, still encased in it’s CFA box, into the big dumpster at our church.

(It took me over a month to figure that out. By that time, the candy had melted in my car beyond any recognizable shape. It was ok, because I had encased the whole problem in a zip lock bag to contain the smell.)

When I needed to throw out “Jesus art” I made a trip to our church parking lot and use their dumpster.

i threw away the Easter crafts in the church dumpster(I helped pay for that dumpster with my offerings, so I felt like I could use it to throw away “Jesus art” safely.)

I avoided little tiny flags on toothpicks.

I knew I was being silly. I understood that it was a matter of heart. I understood I was being legalistic.

But it bugged me.

I just couldn’t make it work in my head.

But then it hit me.

It did change.

(See, I told you I’d get there.)

That whole thing with where the Ark of the Covenant was in a room that people couldn’t go into… that changed on Easter.

It changed when Jesus rose from the dead.

In this weird twisted beautiful way, the story goes full circle.In this weird twisted beautiful way, the story goes full circle.

Because Jesus died on a cross, it’s OK for me to actually handle candy shaped like a cross or a cookie shaped like baby Jesus.

Did you get that?

Let me turn it around.

Before Jesus died on the cross for us, God struck people dead when they touched something Holy… because they were un-holy in their own sin. But because of what Jesus Christ did for us… for ME… things changed.

Wow.

Holy… something.

No, really. Holy is the right word to use here. It really is about holiness.

Because of what Jesus did, everything changed. He made it where I could be washed white as snow. He changed things so that I could be holy enough (if just for a moment) to touch a cross or hold a replica of baby Jesus in my hands.

And that’s amazing.

I still struggle.

Even now, years later, I’m still not comfortable with my kids getting candy crosses.

It no longer drives me to search for an appropriate container or disposal technique.

But it still bugs me.

I’m happier with plastic eggs and fluffy bunnies and cookies in the shape of sheep.

and then its beautiful

When I do encounter a candy cross (or whatever), I still freeze for a second.

I have this moment where I flash back through the whole convoluted thing with the CFA box and the “Jesus tomb” and the baby Jesus cookie and the tiny little flags lined up in a drawer.

And then I remember.

Oh yeah. It’s OK. The cross is OK because of… the cross.

And then, it’s beautiful.

Just think.  It all started with a sucker.

 

I’d love to know if you have ever struggled with how to handle something like this.

 

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Susan Baker
I have a passion for encouraging weary worn out mothers to find joy in everyday motherhood and peace in unlikely places. I have two elementary school boys, one nerdy husband, and two cats. I have a strange fascination for bad puns, the color pink, socks, and books. I worry about running out of toilet paper, wine, and chocolate.. I serve an amazing God. I live an ordinary life filled with wonder.
Susan Baker
Susan Baker

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Comments

  1. Susan, I feel the same way about religious shaped candy although I haven’t ever faced a situation like yours. I don’t think the kids ever got any, thank goodness!

    Enjoyed your telling of your struggle and the results.
    Patty recently posted..See Inside the Second Floor AdditionMy Profile

    • Patty, it took a long to time for me to finally figure out how that looooooooong story needed to end. But when I did, it was such a good feeling.

      Thanks so much for reading all the way through my ridiculously long post.

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