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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Little Christmas Strongman

One of my fondest Christmas memories as a child was not of presents, holiday cheer, or seasonal smells, but rather of seasonal eats and treats and sweets.

I vividly remember going to one of those over-the-top Southern California shopping malls packed shoulder-to-shoulder with masses of holiday shoppers. In this little jewel of a mall in a Waspy suburb was of course every housemother’s favorite, Hickory Farms.

For those of you not familiar with Hickory Farms, it’s a small-sized franchise of sausages, cold cuts, cheese balls, crackers, cookies, jams, and my favorite; Meltaways! The little pastel-colored mints are aptly named as they slowly dissolve in your mouth leaving behind a sugary sweet mint taste.

Enter Grandmother:

So I was on my way to grandmother’s house (whom we called Mum-Mum for she thought a name with “grand” sounded old) with Meltaways and cold cuts in hand.

I recall we were preparing for a holiday meal and while she was opening the Meltaway mints the package ripped in all the wrong places and our kitchen floor ended up looking like a Candyland board game.

Now this is where I should tell you something out Mum-Mum: She’s one tough cookie! She lived through the Great Depression, sat in a sidecar on a cross-country motorcycle ride, underwent cataract surgery while awake, and gets her teeth drilled without novacaine.

I was a squeamish little germaphobe at the time.

So given all this, she didn’t see any reason not to eat these mints that had fallen in battle. These soiled, germ infested mints that had fallen to the kitchen floor. I mean, it’s a waste, right? There are hungry children in third world countries. How can one possibly waste these confections we so take for granted when ketchup and hot water were used to make tomato soup during the depression? (That was if you had the money to afford hot water!)

Mum-Mum knew it was going to be tough getting me to eat these disease-infested mints that had been on the ground for all of 10 seconds, so she needed to convince me.

Well how does one do that? Hmmm… Boys. Little boys like cartoons. Action cartoons. Heroes. Hero=Strong

“Hey Erik,” Mum-Mum said, “If you eat them, it will make you stronger.”

Well, I understand now that she had meant “stronger” in the “you’ll be stronger for it” sense. Maybe the “picking up antibodies for my immune system” sense. But definitely not the “THESE MINTS WILL MAKE ME A SUPERHERO” sense.

Well, I thought it was the latter and gobbled the little buggars up. If you think that was the end of things, then you are absolutely wrong. I recall later that week we had bought some more Meltaway mints. The beast in me was released.

I was wild-eyed. I needed my roid-stuffed mints! So here was the plan: Take some mints, place them on the branches of the Christmas tree (the tree of course being the dirtiest place I could think of without it being totally disgusting) and eat them periodically.

Well, I was no stronger than the average 6 year-old, but I sure thought I was given the sugar high and ran around the house thinking I’d be a body builder when I grew up.

I don’t eat off the ground anymore.

Read the other three Holiday Stories: Click the following links to read Undercover French and Merry Fishmas.