Column - My grandma, the candy dishThe candy dish was anything but sweet. It was ugly. It was dingy yellow and the lid had this horrid brown flower as the handle. But the worst part about the candy dish?
By: Jo Colvin, Alexandria Echo Press
The candy dish was anything but sweet.
It was ugly. It was dingy yellow and the lid had this horrid brown flower as the handle. But the worst part about the candy dish?
It was almost always empty.
The candy dish sat on my grandma’s coffee table, not as a gesture of goodwill or in an effort to make her grandchildren’s days a little sweeter. It was there to torture us.
My dad was an only child, and he had nine children. You’d think Grandma would have been so happy that she would want to stuff us full of candy, smother us with sugar and spoil us rotten. Not a chance.
If you ask any Colvin kid about the candy dish they will say something to this effect: “We were supposed to be very careful around it,” or, “I just remember it not having candy in it,” or “I remember it having candy in it that we couldn’t have.”
During visits to Grandma’s, we would gather in her living room around the coffee table, and it was always there. I would stare at it with longing, its taunting presence practically begging me to lift off its lid and reap the rewards of its delicious content. I would bide my time, building up hope that a rare treat would be found within. Finally, I couldn’t take the suspense. I would reach out my hand toward the candy dish.
“Be careful, it’s an antique, you know,” Grandma would reprimand.
I’d grab that ugly brown flower, take off the lid and….
Heartbreaking disappointment. Empty.
Sure enough, my hopes were crushed. Again. There was no candy in the dish. I’d sigh, put the lid back on, and hope that next time maybe I’d hit the confectionary jackpot.
You’d think I would learn. But you see, every once in a great while (in a great, great while), when I’d take off that ugly lid, I would be shocked to find that there were, indeed, treats lurking within. At first giddy with excitement I would peer into the dish with two results: The candy would be old and nasty, stuck together in one big hard grandma-candy blob. Or Grandma would tell me I couldn’t have any.
Seriously. Why she had to “save” that candy, I’ll never know.
Every time I visited, I would do it all over again, hoping against hope she would find it in her unsweetened heart to sweeten my day. It never happened.
My mom is a different story. She’s the kind of grandma who has candy everywhere. She has it in plastic bowls and glass jars and cute holiday containers. If one breaks, she says, “Oh well, accidents happen.” She has candy dishes on the counter, on the coffee table, on the end tables. Her grandkids (and her grown-up kids) are welcome at any time to have as much candy as they want.
A few years ago, my grandma died. In her will she requested that everything be auctioned off. When Mom was going through her basement, hidden underneath some old blankets she found three bags of candy, old, dusty and inedible. It had been there for years. Sad.
We respected Grandma’s wishes for the auction, except for the candy dish. We either wanted my mom to have it, or we wanted to throw a break-the-candy-dish party – smashing it into pieces.
During a visit to Mom’s house shortly after Grandma’s passing, I saw the candy dish sitting on her coffee table. I ran to it with glee, knowing that Mom would have that thing full of candy. I yanked the lid off (NOT carefully) and laughed hysterically at the contents. In the empty dish she had placed a handwritten note that said, “There’s no candy here. Ha Ha! Fooled you!”
Then Mom brought out a great big bag of candy and filled that yellow dish to overflowing. And suddenly, the candy dish wasn’t as ugly anymore, because it was what was inside that made it beautiful.
There’s the candy -– the yummy, delicious inside that’s sweet and giving, makes everything brighter and better, and brings unselfish joy to others – my mom.
And there’s the dish. Sure, it’s an antique, it may be worth a lot of money and it puts on a good show.
But what good is that if it’s empty?