Sunday, November 18, 2012

Candlelight




I don’t enjoy Christmas promotions that begin long before I’ve celebrated Thanksgiving. This pretty arrangement of natural greens and cones, however, has me wistfully thinking about Christmas decorating.

Decorating has changed over the years.  In my childhood, most of it was natural.  The Christmas tree came from the woods behind our house and the annual expedition with my father to find the perfect tree was a much anticipated event.  I never understood why my mother didn’t come with us. The mystery was solved years later, when I learned that she wrapped our presents while my father kept us occupied with a lengthy tree search.  After some warm-up cocoa and cookies, we were ready to watch my father trim the tree to size, saving the trimmed branches to make a Christmas wreath for our door.   His wreathes became a family tradition.  After we grew up, he continued to make and send a wreath to each of his children for Christmas.  How I miss seeing those wreathes on my door.

The few decorations that weren’t natural were handmade.  My grandmother made our Christmas stockings and embroidered our names on them.  We labored for hours over construction paper chains that joined the cranberry and popcorn strings on our trees and over the doors.    We even had homemade candles that adorned the window ledges and were lit every evening.   It was certainly a pretty sight to stand outside and see them glowing in all the windows. 

Our infatuation with natural lighting ended the year that my aunt’s dining room curtains were set ablaze by a candle flame.  Fortunately the damage was limited to the curtains and a bit of the surrounding wall that was easily repaired.  Everyone knew it could have been much worse.  My grandmother recalled the days when lighted candles were placed on trees.  She said it was a magnificent sight, but, not surprisingly, she also remembered a number of small fires and a larger one that destroyed most of a neighbor’s home.    Our candles remained unlit for the rest of the season and the following year my mother purchased electric candles.   They created a pretty effect from the outside, but the dangling electric cords ruined the indoor atmosphere.  As an adult, I eventually found battery powered candles that were much more aesthetically pleasing, although they tended to consume batteries quite quickly. Nowadays, you can get some fabulous Christmas lights.  Quality flameless candles with timers look like the real thing and are far safer.   The timer helps to prolong battery life and rechargeable batteries make them affordable.  It’s definitely an area where old fashioned is not better.

We usually begin decorating after Thanksgiving.  That may be postponed a bit this year, due to my daughter’s hectic school schedule.    We’ll also have to be careful with breakables with a rambunctious kitten in the house this year.  Another good reason not to have open flames!    I’ll enjoy hanging the tree with our collection of unbreakable ornaments and placing our flameless candles in the windows.  Now if I could only get a package with a homemade wreath for our door.


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