My children got a lot of candy this past Easter.

A. lot.

They got candy at the church Easter egg hunt. They got candy from the Easter Bunny. They got candy from their uncle and from loved ones we consider family. They got candy from their grandparents. To be honest, it’s way too much candy.

After the Easter festivities, I caught a glimpse into the secret world of grandmothers. My mother was recalling a telephone conversation she had with a fellow grandmother and friend. The friend asked my mom, “Does Kathy allow you to give your granddaughters candy?” While I inwardly cringed every time my kids came home with more candy, I realized there’s a bigger picture to be seen.

When it is not Easter, Christmas, or their birthdays, I monitor how much candy my children eat. Before they get dessert, they know they have to finish the vegetables and protein on their plate. They get plenty of exercise and drink water or milk. I’m trying to teach and model for the kids about balance, moderation, and being strong and healthy.

But in those special moments when my girls get boat loads of candy from family and friends, I remember that this is how they show my kids that they are loved. It’s not that candy = love. It’s in the giving of the candy that my girls are being shown that they are loved.

In fact, eating is the first way a baby learns to be loved, nurtured, and cared for. Feeding a child is the first way the parents show their love. The baby learns to trust from the simple act of being fed. Gayle Felton writes, “For [a baby], the connection between being loved and being given food and drink is real.”[1]

We, too, experience that connection between being loved and being given food and drink when we take communion. We participate in a sacred tradition in which we remember Jesus’ sacrificial love for us. We experience God’s grace and forgiveness. We are nourished by the bread and wine and sent out into the world to share God’s transforming love with our neighbors. In the United Methodist tradition we celebrate an open communion table. ALL are invited and that includes children! They might not understand what communion is all about, and to be honest, I don’t exactly either; it is a holy mystery! But what children can understand is the connection between the breaking of the bread, the drinking of the wine, and the experience of love.

So back to my mom’s friend’s question: “Does Kathy allow you to give your granddaughters candy?” My answer is a big, loud YES because I know that is how our extended family and loved ones show their love to my two biggest blessings. And I wouldn’t want to deprive anyone of that.