If I were here to give you a tip (tip being the choice over recipe, which is the other thing that makes me useful here), it would be this:
Now is the time to light candles. Every day.
This past week where I am, we fell back in time, and the world got dark. I love this part of the year. I love the darkness, and the chill, and I like the feeling of change. And for those of us with children in the house, this is the good change, where the kids start to go to bed a little earlier, and it’s easier to drag them out of bed before school because it actually looks like morning instead of the middle of the night. Still, there’s been a tension that came in that might be a given during any change. Or maybe that’s just being a kid, or human, and the narrow hit of the sun as it speeds down behind the mountain brings that tension into clearer focus.
4:30, what I used to call mid-afternoon, is now night. We light the candles then. They’re not the sweet honey smelling beeswax ones I splurge on when things feel flush, but just the endless cube of white tea lights from the last long ago trip to Ikea. How they can sell that many candles for that little bit of money, I don’t know. I don’t think I want to know until I can afford only beeswax candles forever.
But I light the candles–lots of them. Some on the beat-up side table in front of the window, others in a line on the kitchen table. I brush away the crumbs still on the table from breakfast, and I light enough candles so that I have to use three or four matches, each time walking over to the sink to drop the charred match in so I can begin again with a new one. And once they’re lit, it’s warm and light inside in a way that only the candles can create. The girls strip off sweaters, make art on the kitchen table, do handstands in the den, fight over who gets to check their email. I start frying onions in butter and I turn on the radio. The cat comes in, rushes to his bowl as if he didn’t just eat a mouse (I watched him, and he knows that), takes a token bite, and curls up on the sheepskin next to the couch. It seems like part of our work–to light the candles, keep them going, and hold the light within our own four walls until the sun comes back.
Tonight, Joey and I ran down to the fire station to vote, and it was more crowded there than I can ever remember. In each cubicle, someone squinted at the two-page ballot, trying to figure out the meaning of their “yes” or “no.”
Election day falls in this moment, just after Halloween, a few breaths before Thanksgiving–all during this darkest time of the year. It seems right that we vote at this time–this candle time, when all the light we have is our very own responsibility. Somehow, with all the mess, we still vote. It’s like lighting the candles, keeping the light safe within our own four walls.
I know this wasn’t at all the intention of this post, but thank you for admitting that sometimes you also have breakfast crumbs on the table when dinner time rolls around. Solidarity, sister.
lol!! Solidarity indeed! Sometimes I still have dinner crumbs on the table at breakfast time.
Ha! Absolutely the intent of the post. 🙂
We also got out the candles this weekend. Overnight it shifted to cold, dark, and tough to do much more than shuffle off to bed way too early after falling asleep on the couch. I have a weakness for candles – especially ones that smell a little earthy, warm, and welcoming but usually associate it with the long, cold wait for spring that involves small mugs of brandy, snoring labrador drooling on my cold feet, piles of blankets, and a whole lot of ice & snow. Thanks for reminding me it’s also all about the warmth of our family nicely cocooned inside, enjoying the literal fruits of our summer labors, all tucked in together safe & secure until the sunshine comes back to us.
Susan Peters says
Beautifully said. I love this time of year, but I generally light candles only when I’m having company over. Starting tomorrow I will make them a daily pleasure. Thank you —
sarah anne says
A few weeks back we went to the section of the store where they sell the long prayer candles, getting ready for this time of year when I don’t want the candles to burn out. we have loved seeing them last longer, though we also have the same dwindling cube of tealights from the big I.
Candle light changes things, and makes the table feel better. I’m so thankful for the light, and for you too.
that’s a lovely image Alana! I have lots of candles in a box, but it never seems to be the right occasion to light one. Tomorrow I’m going to light one just because – though we just went forward in time so I’ll be lighting about 8pm instead of 4.30….
I love this time of year, too! Reading in bed early and not feeling like I should be working in the garden because it’s light out. Plus dark = time to put jammies on.
Margo, Thrift at Home says
I do love the coziness that comes from the dark outside and light inside. On my list this week is “get the candles out.” My kids are still a little young and spastic around the candles and my husband is worried about fires, so I can’t have as many as I wish. What I REALLY wish for is a fireplace or a woodstove or some kind of hearth like that – now that’s cozy and warm!!
(had to brush the dinner crumbs off the table before breakfast this morning – saw a mouse under the table later – wish we had a cat to take care of it)
Jennifer from BC says
I’m inspired now. I’ve been so caught up over the last weeks in trying to figure out ways to not feel depraved by a lack of sun (it will rain steadily in this part of the country for the next 6 to 8 months) instead of embracing the dark!
What better way to do this than with candles… the big bag of ikea tea candles that my husband thought we’d never get through, may be just what we need!
I loved this post! This time of year is magical as time slows down and fires (in both candle and fireplace form) reign. I wish more of us could slow down as nature intended.
I wish would could just pick a time and stick with it and NOT have to change our clocks! I think it would be better for us all to follow nature’s lighting and not manipulate it – we’d still get the hibernation/slow down of winter and the long productive days of summer…
Thanks for the tip, I think I’ll use it right now…
What a lovely routine. It’s almost like a kind of ceremony, welcoming the darkness and the turning inward. This is what I love most about this time of year – the turning inward. Such a sweet calming after the busyness of summer.
Heidi H. says
I love this idea. Also, candlelight is a warm color, and so many of our new lightbulbs are cool. I’ve just lit two since reading your post this afternoon and I already feel happier.
Margit Van Schaick says
Alana, be sure to teach your children to be careful about the candles. An acquaintance ‘s daughter took a candle down to the basement laundry area, and left it, resulting with the whole house burning down. No loss of life, thank goodness. But, other huge losses. I don’t want to spread gloom. Your idea is so heart-warming. Some life lessons, like respect for fire, bear repeated installing, for adults as well as children.
Yes, we’ve done lots of good candle education around here! A great reminder though- thanks, Margit.
Margit Van Schaick says
I think I meant “instilling”.