My paternal grandmother’s chocolate fudge and divinity were part of many of my childhood Christmases, along with her fruitcake. I didn’t care for the fruitcake, but I did love the candy. She made two colors of divinity, pink and green. One of the batches she would make without nuts, because I didn’t like nuts in my candy. (A trait my daughter inherited.)
When I grew up, I made my own fudge and divinity for a few years. I left out the nuts, too, so the candy was almost pure sugar. I discovered that making candy was a whole lot more trouble than just eating my grandmother’s had been.
The divinity in particular was difficult, because I never could tell what a “hard ball” stage was. How hard is hard? I probably should have purchased a candy thermometer. Instead, I persevered. I cooked and stirred the sugar mixture and dropped bits in water until the balls were hard enough to crack a tooth.
But my efforts turned out pretty well. My divinity tasted as good as my grandmother’s.
My motivation in making the candy was to impress my co-workers. We had a monthly birthday party for everyone in our department, and I had to make the treats in December. I not only wanted to be an up-and-coming attorney, I also wanted to show I could make fabulous treats.
After all, isn’t the way to a boss’s heart through his (or her) stomach? Plus, isn’t the way to show one is totally coping with the job to do the frivolous extras in addition to the real work? So I made homemade treats.
Then I had kids.
I tried to continue my culinary efforts as a young mother. Now I had children and their friends’ mothers to impress as well as my co-workers.
But I gave up.
Literally. I gave up making candy. And cookies (except on rare occasions). I even gave up making birthday cakes—my employer’s cafeteria made better, and prettier, cakes than I could. Cakes with Disney characters drawn on top. With tasty frosting.
I gave up many other interests in the interest of being a good working mother, which I defined as staying on top of my work and keeping my kids fed and clothed and to school on time. And occasionally attending a sports event. That didn’t leave much time for the frivolous extras.
Some of the things I gave up I regret, like playing the piano regularly. But I don’t regret giving up making divinity and fudge. My scale doesn’t regret that I gave up making candy either.
I suppose now that I’m retired, I could take up the culinary arts again. But with no co-workers or children’s friends’ mothers to impress, why bother?
I do make my husband’s birthday cakes now. That’s as far as I’m willing to go.
What activities have you given up over the years that you wish you could now do?