The internet is a strange and wonderful thing.
I first began using it back in 2004 when I had cancer. I started a Xanga site to blog on. Who remembers that? Anyway, fast forward to today, and I am able to work from home because of it, blog in a better way, and be a Master Guide working with people from around the world to support them in becoming their best selves.
Another bonus from the internet is meeting new friends – even when I haven’t. This gentleman is a friend of a friend, who introduced me to him on facebook a few years back. His writing is profound, and this week, I’m sharing him with you:
Ribbon Candy and Life
As a small child 65 years ago, my mother would put ribbon candy in her cut-glass candy bowl at Christmas. Well, actually it was pressed glass since we were precariously perched somewhere between lower-middle class and upper-lower class. But you get the idea. The strips of opaque and translucent candy folded like ribbon were mesmerizing to a small child and they became a Christmas tradition at our house throughout my childhood.
How did they get the candy to fold into ribbons? How did they make some of the red and green candy so that you could see through it? How did they manage to combine strips of different colors into patterns? I would lean over the arm of the overstuffed chair next to the end table and handle that candy until my fingers were all sticky, examining it from every angle and holding it up to the light of the table lamp. It was magical.
Sooner or later, temptation would overcome me and I would break off an inch or so and place it in my mouth. It was too big for my small palate and I’d roll it over and over on my tongue with sticky saliva dribbling from the corners of my mouth until finally, I began to chew it, grinding the candy in a rush of sucrose that made my small teeth hurt.
It was disgusting. There were none of the textural nuances of my other favorite Christmas confection; chocolate-covered cherries with their hard chocolate shell, their creamy filling, and the cherry secreted away deep within. No, ribbon candy was the 1950’s equivalent of Pop Rocks; an overpowering blast of confectionary decadence that left your lips, chin, and fingers sticky, caused your teeth to ache and placed you in a sugar-coma that could last for hours.
But the shape and colors were so seductive.
Again and again those shapes and colors would beckon me and again and again, I would succumb. Slowly but surely the candy bowl would be emptied even as my teeth were rapidly rotting down to their tiny roots. It was a love-hate relationship that lasted for years. My young mind was unable to reconcile something that looked so beautiful but tasted so terrible. Seeing her pressed-glass candy bowl being emptied was all the encouragement my mother needed and she made certain to buy ribbon candy every Christmas for as long as I can remember. And every year I was willingly seduced by the siren song of those colorful ribbons.
Decades went by and my mother passed away at a relatively young age from too much alcohol, joining my father who had already been swallowed up by the alcohol that controlled his life. I was barely thirty years old with a wife and two children of my own and no parents or siblings. As my daughters grew I told them about the candy dish and the ribbon candy. I told them how it had been a Christmas tradition when I was a child. One Christmas morning my adult children were delighted as they watched me open a very special package containing… yes… old-fashioned ribbon candy they had managed to find somewhere. My wife arranged it in a glass bowl where it sparkled in the twinkling lights of the Christmas tree nearby.
They watched in anticipation as I broke off a piece and placed it in my mouth. It was still too big and awkward to suck on and once more I bit into a flood of overpowering sugar that instantly made the lights in the room seem to pulsate and my teeth hurt. I tried to smile and nod appreciatively even as my blood sugar surged uncontrollably. This stuff really was disgusting. I had forgotten how bad it really was; beautiful to look at but sickening to eat. I didn’t touch another piece of that candy that year,discretely slipping it into the trash shortly after Christmas. Somewhere that candy is still probably poisoning rats and crows in a public landfill a quarter century later.
Every year at Christmas I think about that ribbon candy from my childhood and I remember how beautiful it appeared and how disgusting it tasted. It occurs to me that there is much in life that’s like that:Seductively beautiful to contemplate yet disgusting when you indulge yourself. From wrong relationships to wrong life goals, from the empty lure of fame and riches to the promise of pure limitless self-indulgence, so much of what appears to be so beautiful turns out to be nothing but a sticky toothache in the end. Sometimes it destroys a tooth. Sometimes it destroys a family or a marriage or a bank account or a reputation or a career.
Perhaps you have some ‘ribbon candy’ in your life; something that lures you again and again with the seductive beauty that tempts you tot ake a bite. Maybe it’s a new temptation, or maybe it’s been a life long weakness. Maybe it’s time for you to finally acknowledge that everything beautiful to look at isn’t necessarily good for you. Maybe it’s time for you to dump some of those temptations in the trash once and for all this Christmas.Each of us has our own “ribbon candy” in life, and each of us has to unentangle ourselves from the powerful pull of youthful foolishness- no matter how beautiful or tempting. We’re grown up now. Let’s begin to act like it.
Eugene Peterson put it this way in his paraphrase of 2 Timothy 2:22. “Run away from infantile indulgence. Run after mature righteousness…”
The author of Hebrews offered this thought in Chapter 12,verse 1. “…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out fo rus” NIV
We’re all old enough to know what our “ribbon candy” is by now–which infantile indulgences entangle us year after year after year. Let’s all give ourselves a Christmas gift this year and empty the candy dish once and for all.
©2018 Steve Lambert
SO – what’s your ribbon candy? I’d love to know!