Lent: A time to count the lollies, but not contemplate my sins

Apr 12, 2022

Many years ago when I was expected to be a mini practising Catholic in my staunchly Catholic family we partook in the season of Lent – the forty days before Easter which commemorates the story of Jesus dying on the cross.

Now, I was not interested in the religious significance, because my own personal creed and religion was the pursuit of lollies or anything sweet. My little sister and I each had a small amount of pocket money which we would use to buy a small bag of lollies from the local corner shop but during Lent one was expected to practice abstinence from all pleasures, and since sugar was my main pleasure, I would make giving up lollies mine.

But ah, I had a sinister motive. In an old jam jar, I would place my weekly lolly splurge so that I could drool over them, anticipating Easter morning when I could be eating the lot.

But oh it was so hard on that sturdy little girl. I would lovingly pour out the lollies as they accumulated in the jar, count them, sniff them, surreptitiously lick them and then put them back, full of virtue for my self-denial. In forty days they built up. Mum was grumpy because Lent was a time she gave up her pleasures of a biscuit with her cuppa, but really she was trying to lose weight and make it a religious brownie point. Dad was always very saintly anyway so I’m not sure what he gave up. 

The lolly jar was hidden deep in the depths of Mum’s wardrobe. At various times of the day, I would sneak in if she was busy doing something else and go and drool over the contents of my jar. Boiled lollies, musk sticks, pineapple lumps, chocolate fish, toffees, jaffas …ah the list goes on.

After several outings from the jar they would become very sticky from my eager little paws – they were probably awash with germs by then but I didn’t care as I tallied up the total without giving poor Jesus a passing thought. He would eye me from the massive crucifix on the living room wall, but he seemed to be preoccupied and not too worried about my battle with gluttony.

By the time we got through Good Friday with its foul fish lunch and even more mournful dirges at both school and church, I only had to wait until Sunday. Ah, Sunday – it would dawn bright and clear with yellow chickens and baby bunnies leaping over the spring flowers on the lawn. Just kidding, it was autumn and not a daisy, bunny or fluffy chicken insight. But we did get our easter egg.

In the 60s Mum got us each an icing easter egg. Made of pure sugar in the most garish of lurid colours we ripped open the cellophane, smashed it and got stuck in – after Church of course. I would start to feel bilious from the sweet taste, but the lolly jar was next. I would gorge myself on the contents, but could not manage them all. My little sister was on her own mission to gobble hers up also. We never saw chocolate eggs at all, but if we were lucky would get a couple of little fluffy chenille chickens with stick legs and stuck on cardboard beaks.

Thankfully I grew out of that phase of my life, and only this morning as I was perusing the supermarket aisles the rows of easter eggs, rabbits, bilbies and hot cross buns didn’t get my taste buds going. I fancied a really good flat white and a solitary Tim Tam instead. Easter is coming up. Do you practice Lent, and what are your memories of Easter as a small child?

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