Giving Up Divinity

Divinity image

Image from What’s Cooking America

My paternal grandmother’s chocolate fudge and divinity were part of many of my childhood Christmases, along with her fruitcake. I didn’t care for the fruitcake, but I did love the candy. She made two colors of divinity, pink and green. One of the batches she would make without nuts, because I didn’t like nuts in my candy. (A trait my daughter inherited.)

When I grew up, I made my own fudge and divinity for a few years. I left out the nuts, too, so the candy was almost pure sugar. I discovered that making candy was a whole lot more trouble than just eating my grandmother’s had been.

The divinity in particular was difficult, because I never could tell what a “hard ball” stage was. How hard is hard? I probably should have purchased a candy thermometer. Instead, I persevered. I cooked and stirred the sugar mixture and dropped bits in water until the balls were hard enough to crack a tooth.

But my efforts turned out pretty well. My divinity tasted as good as my grandmother’s.

My motivation in making the candy was to impress my co-workers. We had a monthly birthday party for everyone in our department, and I had to make the treats in December. I not only wanted to be an up-and-coming attorney, I also wanted to show I could make fabulous treats.

After all, isn’t the way to a boss’s heart through his (or her) stomach? Plus, isn’t the way to show one is totally coping with the job to do the frivolous extras in addition to the real work? So I made homemade treats.

Then I had kids.

I tried to continue my culinary efforts as a young mother. Now I had children and their friends’ mothers to impress as well as my co-workers.

But I gave up.

Literally. I gave up making candy. And cookies (except on rare occasions). I even gave up making birthday cakes—my employer’s cafeteria made better, and prettier, cakes than I could. Cakes with Disney characters drawn on top. With tasty frosting.

I gave up many other interests in the interest of being a good working mother, which I defined as staying on top of my work and keeping my kids fed and clothed and to school on time. And occasionally attending a sports event. That didn’t leave much time for the frivolous extras.

Some of the things I gave up I regret, like playing the piano regularly. But I don’t regret giving up making divinity and fudge. My scale doesn’t regret that I gave up making candy either.

One of my prettier birthday cake attempts

One of my prettier birthday cake attempts

I suppose now that I’m retired, I could take up the culinary arts again. But with no co-workers or children’s friends’ mothers to impress, why bother?

I do make my husband’s birthday cakes now. That’s as far as I’m willing to go.

What activities have you given up over the years that you wish you could now do?

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  1. Oh, I forgot about divinity…my mother used to make that as well, along with fudge. There was nothing better than her homemade fudge. When she stopped making it, I never ate another piece of fudge again. It just wasn’t the same. I used to bake year around, now I only bake during the holidays. That’s a nice looking cake, Theresa. I’m not very artistic when it comes to layer cakes, the bundt pan makes it easier. 🙂

  2. Well, I gave up making stained glass so I no longer know how to break the glass–you have to feel it in your hands and I’ve lost the feel. Does that count? I wouldn’t be opposed to trying your divinity, if you make it, of course ;).

    • I would say your stained glass art definitely counts; maybe someday you’ll get back to it.
      I wish I could play the piano the way I could at 14, too. I still play occasionally, but I am so rusty it’s embarrassing.

  3. I gave up singing in the choir when my kids were young. But singing makes me happy, forces me to focus on the present (as in, the notes on the page, not what might happen tomorrow) and in a big enough choir that it doesn’t matter if I actually sing well or not, was something I could easily return to. And I have.

    • Congratulations to you for returning to singing, Linda! And what a great description of your reasons for doing so — it makes you happy and makes you focus on the present. What better reasons for doing anything?
      Cheers. Theresa

  4. I laughed. After sending off two boxes full of banana bread and cookies today about the only thing I don’t want to do is make divinity (never could anyway – or fudge). If you need someone to send candy to, I could loan you a couple of boys.

  5. Just made a pitiful batch of divinity – with walnuts. No trouble with hard crack stage (thanks to candy thermometer) but ended up with chunky vanilla taffy. Wrapped each chewy mound in wax paper and mailed anyway. My kids will eat anything sweet. My mom made it by whisk & wooden spoon….no thanks. Carol B

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