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Lisa Sygutek

Nov 1, 2023

Traditions are really memories. Memories that for one moment make you smile and just be happy that you had them.

I love traditions. I grew up with a mom that ensured every holiday was over the top. I remember decorating our house each Halloween, and every night before, making candied apples from scratch. 

We have this amazing recipe that’s been handed down over the generations. We would skewer the 150 apples and then we were off to the races. When I was little, my job was to wrap the apples and put them outside to cool on the cookie sheet. I was too young to twirl the apples in the boiling hot candy that we made. 

As I grew up, we still made those candy apples together. When I started to have kids, I took over the tradition. My mom would come over to the house and as she got older, it was her job to wrap the apples, while I twirled them in the candy. 

I only missed one year, the year that my mom died in 2015. She passed away right after Halloween and for one year I didn’t have the heart or energy to do it. 

I do remember when she was in long-term care, I’d make those apples and bring them over. She couldn’t do much those last few years, but that smile when I walked into that room filled my heart. 

Since mom left me, it’s been bitter-sweet making those apples. It’s a ton of work and usually includes a burned fingertip or two. That said, every time I pour the food colouring in the melted syrup, and it bubbles, I smile and think of my momma. 

Traditions are so important right now. We get caught up in our digital lives. We spend more time on our phones texting people than we spend talking to them. We shop online for clothing, we can now order our food from restaurants online, we can do everything online. Somehow, all it’s really done is disconnect us from human interaction. 

Making candy apples is face-to-face time. We talk, we cook, and we laugh our faces off stuffing our mouths with leftover candy. 

In the past I used to have a production crew. Keiran would take the hot trays of apples outside; Aiden would wrap them after they cooled, and Quinn would oversee Halloween music. 

This year is the last year I’m going to make candy apples. Quinn graduates this year and the last of my babies is going to leave home. Luck would have it that my nephew’s wife Kassidy has decided to take over the Sygutek tradition. On Sunday we donned the ‘Candy Apple Apron’ and the work (and fun) began. It was a wonderful afternoon. I got to play with my great nephew Mac while Kassidy made the majority of the apples. I left a little part of my mom and myself with Kassidy, who feels more like a daughter than niece-in-law to me. 

We laughed, we ate our faces full of left-over hard candy, and it was a beautiful afternoon. The antics of Mac trying to walk everywhere, including up the stairs, had us laughing, and my heart overwhelmingly full of love for that little guy. 

I will share a small secret; I am going to be the best great aunt the world has ever seen! So close to when my mom’s life ended, I can celebrate the beginning of a new generation in my family. It makes me realize how blessed I truly am. I have my health; I have family that loves me, and for that I am grateful. 

One day, when I’m gone, I hope my boys remember these traditions, that when Halloween comes around, they tell their kids about all those candy apples their crazy holiday mom made.

So, you see, traditions are really memories. Memories that for one moment make you smile and just be happy that you had them. So, I will guarantee you when you read this paper today, I would have sat in my kitchen making 150 candy apples with my family, smiling about my mom, and happy to pass on this tradition.

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