My parents were not the kind of people to have candles. We did not have taper candles on the table at holiday meals or fill the air with the scent of cinnamon or pine. There was one candle in the holiday centerpiece each year, unlit, cord bright white. The only burning candles of my youth were on my birthday cake, flaming for mere seconds before being transformed into smoking pillars of spent wax by my excited breath.
I’m not sure how candles infiltrated my life but I suspect it might have been around the time of The Police video for 'Wrapped around Your Finger'. That spiral maze of cathedral candles. The lyrics of seduction and submission. And of course, Sting. The video was haughty and naughty at the same time. Like a sacrilege. A sexy sacrilege bathed in sensuous candlelight. Mmmm. But I digress.
Candles. Maybe Pier One is to bear blame for my candle appropriation with their bohemian offerings and bargain pricing. I will blame Ikea too. All I know is that my first abode, a poorly furnished one bedroom rental, was transformed each evening into the candlelit den of a free spirit. Not just free, but wanton and wild. My imagination soared with the candle heat as the muted light softened my hard edges. I found candlelight to be freeing.
I didn’t initially embrace the fat pillar candles as I did not own the expensive bases that made them look smart and stylish. I was drawn to taper candles. It was easy to find taper bases at garage sales, the single remainder of a pair or the out of fashion tarnished silver-plate. Frequently, I could score the taper holder with a dusty faded candle residing within.
We festooned our dining table with six or seven at a time of differing heights and bases. We viewed ourselves as sophisticated. In hind sight, our dinner parties were a bit like hot yoga. Our guests left with a glisten from the alcohol and heat. One candle would always melt quicker than its peers, coating its shaft in wax drips, ultimately pooling onto the tablecloth. Guests would appear shocked as my spouse or I continued with our conversation as though wax covered our tablecloths daily. Not quite, but close.
Eventually I had the discretionary income to upgrade to big fat pillar candles and fancy tea light holders. Now the candles also inhabited the coffee table and the book shelves. Our curious cats singed their whiskers in the pursuit of all things hot. Our bookshelves had blistered undersides and our carpet was frequently ironed with a paper bag to remove errant wax run off. Those tiny demure flames seem so innocent.
Are you wondering how we have never burned our house down?
At the beginning of the Covid shutdown, I had the brilliant idea to place a few glass votive holders in our shower on top of the soap shelves and on the tiled bench. The affect was alluring and seductive, with the hot shower steam swirling in the soft light. It made me feel that freedom I felt decades ago in my first apartment. Showering in candlelight made me feel sexy and desirable. I was quite pleased with myself and vowed to write a well worded and compelling blog about my genius. Then one day, I accidentally hit the underside of the soap dish and one of the votive holders hit the shower floor, shattering into a million sharp shards. With a cry of expletives, I ditched rinsing my shampoo covered hair and attempted a hasty dash over a sea of wet glass. Red footprints on the shower floor and rug marked my trail. Unrinsed shampoo dripped off my hair. Desirable? Genius? I think not. Sometimes lessons are hard learned.
But some lessons aren’t learned at all. The damage caused by wax has never offset my love of that flickering soft light. I just LOVE candles that much.
My daughter recently experienced an extended power failure and while it could be viewed as an inconvenience, I found myself jealous. Her Snapchat of her living room gorgeously lit only in candlelight gave me pause. A little voice said “I want that”. I pushed back on the thought as power failures aren’t common events. “I need that” my soul interrupted. I shook my head no. “I WILL have that” my heart interjected. I frowned. Venturing down to the local power substation to blow it up did not seem like something in my skill set. It was also not a very nice thing to do. People need power. That would put me on the naughty list, something I would never risk so close to Christmas. I shook my head no again. My muse whispered “You are being too literal. C’mon girl. Think.” As I tried hard to reason out the power failure puzzle, my exasperated muse just screamed “For goodness sake, Woman. Pretend. Just Pretend.”
The Solstice is to be marked December 21st and of course, in true 2020 fashion, there will be a rare astronomical event as well. On the Solstice, Jupiter and Saturn will be the closest to earth, appearing to align as one super star in the sky. Dubbed the “Christmas Star” by the media, the event happens for a few nights before and after the solstice. The event can be viewed just after sunset. It is thought that the Star of Bethlehem was a similar planetary conjunction of Jupiter and Venus. This is an exceedingly rare event and befitting an appropriate celebration.
I'm not worried. See, my muse has this plan...
More information on the Christmas Star can be found in the links below: