He smiled as he lifted the old candy box down from the top closet shelf. It was worn from many years of being handled. He remembered the year when he and his wife had gotten the box of assorted chocolates as a Christmas gift. The candy was long gone, but the box had gained a second purpose of collecting buttons, thread, needles, and a variety of other accumulated odds and ends.
I flipped open its broad yellow and white hinged top. A faint aroma of the chocolate wafted up and stirred the memories lodged in my nostrils. It took me back to an almost embarrassing incident that makes me smile now. My wife was still alive and our three children’s ages ranged from four or five years old to twelve years old.
My wife had invited some of our old friends over for a post-Christmas celebration. It was to be a time for talking, snacking, and exchanging of gifts. Those friends had three children of their own and it made a perfect fit for our friendship and for exchanging of gifts.
My wife had prepared a tray of vegetables and dip, a tray of crackers with a cheese ball, and a tray of assorted cookies to serve our guests. As she showered and got dressed, I set the trays of goodies out on the dining room table. It looked festive, but I thought the cookie tray looked a little plain and would look more celebratory with a few of the chocolates scattered on the tray. I pulled the candy box from its spot under the Christmas tree. I opened it up and lifted the first piece of chocolate from its resting place inside. It was still cradled in its crinkled brown paper cup.
The aroma and the sight of the confection made my mouth water. I hadn’t eaten one of the chocolates yet and it tempted me. I was feeling a bit hungry and seeing all of the food on the table and thought I would try a piece now. As I took the candy out of its paper wrapper, I thought that it felt a bit odd. Turning it over, I had a surprise. I could see that one of our kids had picked the chocolate coating off the underside. Apparently the child hadn’t liked the crème that had been hidden inside and returned it to its brown crinkled paper cup and then slipped it back into box, making it look as if it had never been disturbed.
I ate the disfigured piece of chocolate even though I could see that the crème inside wasn’t my one of my favorites. The frugal nature in me rejected the other option of throwing it away. The waste of food would have grated on my upbringing.
I picked out a second piece of candy nestled in its paper nest to put onto the tray. This one felt odd too. When I turned it over, it had the bottom coating of sweets scraped off as well. The chocolate layer was gone and the creamy filling was exposed.
I looked through the candies. All of the chocolates had been mutilated, rendered bottomless, and returned to their candy box homes. That evening none of the sweet confections ever made it onto the cookie tray. Completely by accident, I had discovered and avoided an embarrassing situation.
Even if I hadn’t caught the mutilated bonbon, our friends would have understood. They had three children too. It has become an amusing story in our family and someone will ask, “Anyone want a piece of chocolate?”