And other childhood memories around food
Although I don’t consider myself a true “foodie” I have found that many of my childhood memories center around food.
I remember the banana-flavoured popsicles that my brother, Andrew, and my cousins, Paul and Eric, bought at Becker’s convenience store at the corner of Hunter and Mark Streets on hot summer days. I remember the warmed honey bun that my cousin Angela proclaimed as the “must-eat” treat of the week at East-City Coffee Shop. And I remember the cookies that I saved during Lent.
Lent is a time of fasting that lasts six weeks to imitate the time Jesus fasted in the wilderness after His baptism and before He started His public ministry. It begins on Ash Wednesday and ends the night before Easter.
I always found Ash Wednesday to be an interesting ceremony. At church, the priest would use his thumb to place the sign of the cross on our foreheads with ashes. The ashes came from the burning of palm branches that were used in the Palm Sunday mass the week before. This represented our desire to repent and “die” to our sins. I never wanted to put on my hat or wash my face because I wanted the mark to last.
I liked Palm Sunday mass too. We were given palm branches (although they seemed more like long thin dried leaves to me) that were blessed by the priest. I always kept mine and pinned them to the wall behind the crucifix that hung over my bedroom door.
During Lent, we were expected to give up something that we loved. Like most kids, I loved cookies. Candies. Sweets of all sorts.
So anytime I would receive a treat, I would put it in my Lent box. Over the course of the six weeks, I would collect lots of delicious yummies. Tempted to crack open the box and eat the goodies inside, I hid it in my closet on the top shelf.
I looked forward to opening my box on Easter morning and indulging in the goodies to my heart’s content.
But after the Easter Mass, of course.
Easter Sunday Mass was the opposite of the Good Friday service. It was joyous and celebratory while the Good Friday liturgy was somber and restrained. Good Friday service started at 3:00 p.m. to represent the time that Jesus died on the cross. I remember lining up to walk to the front of the church to kiss the feet of Jesus on the cross and then the whole congregation left the church in silence.
We fasted from eating meat on Good Friday. But on Easter Sunday, we’d return from Mass and get to hunt for eggs.
I remember the many, many chocolate eggs hidden throughout the house that my brothers and I raced around to find. We’d pile them in a big bowl in the living room and Mom would divide them evenly after we were done the hunt.
The eggs were hidden the night before. Dad told me that it took some ingenuity to find good hiding spots and in order to not forget they wrote down where they hid them.
Each Spring, we entered the season of Lent and enjoyed the special Masses and festive foods that accompanied it.
And as I grew older and had my own children, these fond memories returned as I tried to recreate the same loving experiences for them.
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