I don’t recall the ‘why’ but I’m learning that’s my least favorite query. When, what, where and how tend to spur a drilldown with a payoff, but ‘why’? Not so much. I think it’s because some things in life just happen…the inexplicable, the magical, coincidental, the maddening. Exploring the reasons, the why? Unnecessary adventures that often yield little insight. (Bad ROI for my business-y friends.)
That’s where I start with this silly remembrance. I don’t know WHY the dear hubster was a prankster with my mom. I suspect it was because mom pivoted between tragedy and comedy – daily – and keeping her on the funny side, as much as possible, was good for all of us. I should remember to thank him for his service! 😊 His best bit ever? It involved holiday hijinks with M&M candy…
Late one Christmas Eve, not long after we were married, the hubster took mom’s gigantic brandy-snifter (something that normal people would use as a terrarium or a goldfish bowl but to mom, it was ‘just a candy dish’) and he painstakingly sorted five pounds of those tiny M&M candy discs – by color – and layered them back into the bubble-shaped bowl. It looked like geological layers…rock formations…chocolate-coated candy-style. I think the order was brown, yellow, green, blue, red. I wish I had a pic…but I don’t. Can you picture it in your mind?
Back in those days the hubs was a night owl. Less so now…we like our sleep more than shenanigans…and this little escapade was nearly an all-nighter. The next morning, mom was the first one up but she went straight to the kitchen to get little quiches ready, make the coffee and put cinnamon rolls in the oven. Our Christmas morning routine was to nosh a little, open presents, nosh some more, complain we were full, take a walk around the block and by that time we were ready for more – presents and nibbles. Oh my, the holiday excesses!
Given all of his hard work, the hubster was disappointed when mom didn’t react to his M&M masterpiece – for hours. She walked past the hall table where the big bowl sat, not giving it a second look. Later, my dad saw it and busted out laughing…a spit-take with his second cup of coffee. He knew immediately it was his dear son-in-law’s handiwork and wanted to linger in the room to be there…to catch mom’s reaction. You know – the payoff.
Finally – and only because mom needed to fetch some doo-dad from a nearby cabinet – she noticed the bulging bowl of striated M&M’s and just stood there. Frozen. Hubs thought for sure she would pin the caper on him – immediately. Nope! Instead, she screamed, “Holy shit!” “Someone’s been in the house – we’ve been robbed – see what’s missing!” Why on Earth she thought the M&M display was the dastardly deed of a burglar, we’ll never know. Her first reaction was about trespassers?? Evil, no-good bandits staking out the house just to play with five pounds of candy?
After a few seconds she realized we were laughing…unable to contain ourselves. She looked at the hubs with a fun, narrow-eyed twinkle and said, “Oh YOU! I bet you were up all night doing that!” (true) and then, “You’ll never know what I might do to retaliate…you know, when you’re sleeping!” This was one time when mom was all bluster and bravado. She loved the attention, the time and energy that went into the joke. For years afterward, she regaled others with the story, “He got me…he really got me!”
Every birthday and Christmas afterward, mom gifted the hubs with hefty bags of M&M’s, typically disguised, or snuck into other presents as a loving reminder of the M&M caper. It was their thing – their sweet inside joke.
After our daughter was born, I found a holiday recipe for cute reindeer cookies (see pic) and began making them annually, as a tradition. The only hitch? We’ve established that M&M’s don’t come in bags by color, right? The reindeer cookies require only a single red candy for the nose and two brown for the eyes. You know where I’m headed. Yes, for at least twenty years, as our DD (darling daughter) grew up, we continued the sorting madness, by necessity, in order to ferret out the brown and red ones – essential to make our Rudolph cookies.
- If you play a prank on someone, be aware that it might set the stage for years of associated silliness, like the endless tiddly-wink fiddling and sorting of slippery candies.
- Buckle up. Traditions are inescapable. If I had to guess, we’ve made ten dozen batches of reindeer cookies every year for 20 years. Carry the one, add the two, divide by nine…I think that means we’ve sorted enough M&M’s to bake 2400 cookies.
- I don’t care. I’d do it all over again…and there’s a batch in the oven now. Come on over, wash your hands. I’ve got a fresh bag of M&M’s on the counter and could use your help.
Merry, Happy, Everything – from our house to yours!