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JENKINS: Bidding farewell to another chocolate season

Photo by Howard Reed

Photo by Howard Reed

“April is the cruelest month,” wrote the poet T.S. Eliot, and I’m inclined to agree. That’s because April marks the end of the six-month chocolate candy extravaganza that begins in late October.

Before going on, I should confess that I have a highly developed sweet tooth. No, that’s not entirely accurate. Charlie Sheen’s paranoia is highly developed. My craving for chocolate is more akin to the Democratic Party’s appetite for tax hikes and high-cost social programs.

Which is why I love the October through April half of the year. Most people think in terms of four seasons. For me there are only two: chocolate season, and digging-through-the-pantry-looking-for-anything-that-remotely-resembles-chocolate season.

At the beginning we have Halloween, which has to be one of the most ingenious holidays ever invented. I mean, you go up and knock on some perfect strangers’ door and they have to give you candy? How cool is that?

Of course, grown-ups can’t actually trick-or-treat, but I’ve discovered something even better: my kids do all the work, and I end up with roughly twice the loot. True, I have to share it with them, but as a conscientious parent I naturally place strict limits on their candy consumption. That stuff’s not good for you, you know.

The result is that I usually have enough Tootsie Rolls and miniature Snickers bars to see me through Christmas. Because, let’s face it: Thanksgiving, for all its wonderful traditions — family get togethers, expressions of gratitude, yada, yada — is not a great chocolate candy holiday.

Christmas isn’t ostensibly chocolate-oriented, either. But you have to give the candy companies credit for trying, as they blatantly co-opt traditional Christmas symbols to market their wares. (My favorites are the red-and-green-wrapped peppermint patties.)

Next comes Valentine’s Day, a holiday beloved by chocolate aficionados because its basic theme is that chocolate equals love. On Valentine’s Day, I show my wife and children plenty of love — enough, usually, to last me about two months.

Which brings us to Easter. There are really only two reasons to celebrate Easter: one is religious, and the other is to consume as much chocolate candy as possible. Judging from my last trip down the “seasonal items” aisle at the grocery store, I’d say the latter motive has nearly surpassed the former.

Unfortunately, once the last milk chocolate bunny has been summarily dispatched, there’s not much to look forward to until Halloween, the holidays in between being rather lame, chocolate-wise. The Fourth of July has its own charm, but you can’t exactly sneak a mouthful of firecrackers after the kids go to bed.

So why, you might ask, don’t I just buy myself some chocolate candy, rather than waiting for a holiday to steal it from my kids? I think the answers to that question that are pretty obvious. For one thing, it would absolutely ruin my diet.

And besides, that stuff’s not good for you, you know.

Rob Jenkins is a free-lance writer and college professor who lives in Lawrenceville. Email him at rjenkinsgdp@yahoo.com.