Candy Canes are Crimson
I haven’t been very excited for Christmas since I was much younger. For so many years, the best thing about the season was a pack of new socks that I would give to myself each Christmas. People just get completely wrapped up in the holly and mistletoe, the lights, and all the wrapping paper. I don’t mean to sound pitiful, and I don’t intend to reminisce. Actually, I want to warn you.
I heard a story recently. It goes something like this:
It’s nearly Christmas, and a man returns home to find an ornate box sitting on his doorstep. It’s about the size of a shoebox, but crafted of dark-stained wood with ornate carvings on the lid. A crisp, bright red bow sits on top of the box. It looks like it fell right off of Santa’s sleigh. The man picks up the unexpected item and takes it inside. When he opens the box he finds a soft, red cover made of velvet. He moves the cover to find six candy canes carefully arranged inside. He’s certainly seen candy canes before, but these are different. These aren’t the cheap, mass produced variety from the grocery store. They are larger and look to be made by hand. Each one is a small work of art, perfectly smooth and polished. The thick crimson swirls are a brighter shade than he has seen before. Looking closely, the man can see the slight texture left by a brush. The stripes are even and uniform, but it appears that they have been painted on by hand. There is no indication of who has left the box, only a handwritten note that explains the purpose of the gift in elaborate, black font:
“Please accept this humble gift in recognition of your outstanding citizenship. You are an example and an inspiration to those around you. I want you to know that a lot of thought and effort goes into each one of these special canes.”
It feels good to know that his benevolence has not gone unnoticed. He organized a food drive, and was a member of the community council. He has always tried to help when a need arises. It is one of the only ways to escape the pain of his recent tragedy. He didn’t do any of these things in hope of recognition, but it is still nice that someone had noticed. He places the gift on the coffee table in the living room. He is not a big fan of candy canes, but the elaborate box and the note are worth keeping. He thinks of how much his young son used to love sweets. His wife tries one of the treats the next day, and after hearing her rave about them the man also has one. By the end of the week the candy canes are gone.
Why should I warn you of this? Well, there was much more to that gift than there appeared to be. The box contained something terrifying. The delicate bow and the ornate box itself were beautiful, but insignificant. The polished, white stalks of the canes were carefully crafted, but held no secrets. The red stripe was the critical component of this unique gift. The candy-maker had no malicious intent in preparing this gift, but some might say that his mind was warped. The main component of the crimson paint was extremely difficult to procure. Harvesting the fluid required extensive planning, and significant risk. In the twisted mind of the candy-maker the “thought and effort” involved in finding and locating a specific and appropriate source for that red fluid was essential to the nature of the gift.
The candy-maker insisted that his special gift could not be given to just anyone. He searched for several months until he learned of a man who had recently lost his youngest child in an accident. The term “accident” was a misnomer. Father and son were driving to church when they were hit by a man in a stolen car. The man who hit them had so much alcohol in his system that he was barely able to stumble away from the accident, leaving his victims pinned in the wreckage. The father survived, the child did not.
To keep the story brief, the intoxicated driver was arrested but never convicted of killing that little boy. There was however, enough information for the candy-maker to track down the murderer several months later. The mind of the candy-maker was demented, but sharp. He watched the killer for weeks to find the perfect opportunity to drug the man and take him away. That went very smoothly.
The killer was tied up, gagged, and beaten but he still struggled. The candy-maker had it in his mind that it would be best if the “donor” was alive when he drew the man’s blood. He was not a phlebotomist by any means and it took a dozen tries before the needle found a suitable blood vessel. The whole affair became very messy. The candy-maker spoke only once while he worked: “Do you know the symbolism behind the candy cane?”, but the donor wasn’t interested in the discussion. The candy-maker considered releasing the donor but decided that it would diminish the meaning of the gift if he were left alive. That was something that he could not allow. The gift had to be perfect.
The specially formulated paint was applied to the brilliant white canes. The final product was stunning! He placed each one carefully in the box and placed the bow on top. It was unfortunate that the recipient would never fully understand the deeper meaning of this gift, but that was not important. It is the thought that counts. The candy-maker truly believed that it was more important to give than to receive.
So, my warning is this: Make good decisions and be aware of how much you celebrate before getting behind the wheel.
You may be wondering how the candy-maker became so twisted, and what motivated him to create such a reprehensible gift. Well, that is a much longer story. I know for a fact that this was not the first, nor would it be the last gift that he created. Maybe you are curious about how I know so many specific details of this story. That would also take some time to explain, but I can tell you that for the past year or two the holiday season has been much more meaningful to me. Giving myself new socks is no longer the most exciting thing that I have to look forward to.