Candles hold so many different meanings.
Don’t hide your light under a bushel basket referred to a candle.
Over the years candles have sparkled at every important event in my life.
I’ve held the candle my husband and I lit together at our wedding. That candle still sits atop the china cabinet in our dining room.
At each child’s baptism we lit a candle of faith and hope. I kept those candles until they lit them at their First Holy Communion.
How about the candle lighting at the town Christmas concert? The entire crowd lifted high a tiny spark that lit the entire night and brightened our spirits as we sang of another promise.
There was the soft light of candles at the funeral of my Mom. And the other family members I love.
As Christmas approaches we light the Advent candles: one each week for four weeks to celebrate the approach of the Christ Child’s birth.
Or the Hanukah candles on a graceful Menorah? The candles are lit each evening in celebration along with the sharing of gifts.
Birthday candles add that touch of playfulness as each child tries to blow out the flames. I remember my daughter blew out the single candle on her first birthday cake. What a surprise! And my Dad managed to do the eighty-five candles on his last cake.
So I get to the candle that holds the most meaning for me.
My grandparents, my parents and then my own family put a candle in the window for the holidays. You can see them sparkling in every neighborhood, glowing out across the darkness.
The old tradition says the candle will light the path for the Holy Family as they seek shelter.
Another less know tradition is the candle will light the way home for lost loved ones.
My daughter-in-law creates stained-glass windows and has promised me a picture of a lit candle for my attic window. When I put it in place I plan to put a light behind it so every day of the year my loved one can find their way home.
Tell me, What is your special candle?
May all your loved ones share a Happy Christmas, Happy Hanukah and Happy New Year.
Every year there was something special that I wanted for Christmas.
I remember wanting a horse. Not a pony, a real live horse that I could ride like in The Black Stallion. Sigh. It didn’t happen and with good reason since I had trouble taking care of a cat. But I wanted that horse.
How about the year I wanted a clarinet? I wanted to take the free music lessons offered at school but my parents had to provide the instrument. That was the year I learned that money didn’t always stretch to cover a son in college and a girl in elementary school’s wishes.
There was the year my sister was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes and I wanted her to be well again. She learned to care for herself and I learned good things don’t always happen to good people.
There was the Christmas I was seven months pregnant and huge as a whale. I wanted that baby to arrive, but he stayed with me until February. Happy Birthday, Stephen.
Christmas was a time for planning on how to make the money go far enough. I wished for enough to buy everything my children wanted, but it never happened. I made jars of mint jelly (green) and crab-apple jelly (red) to give to their teachers. I knit slippers and mittens because hand-made things were less expensive. I saved so they could make a list to Santa and I promised to get them three things off that list. They got them, but it wasn’t always the most expensive items.
I wished to finish my manuscript by Christmas but didn’t. Shoot.
For years, I wished for my daughter to come home for Christmas, but Alaska was too far away.
This year I wanted to have my entire family gather for the Holidays. That ain’t going to ever happen. My son with the christmas tree farm is still working. The grandson in the navy’s submarine put into Groton so he came with his sweetheart. My granddaughter in the Air Force was flying to Colorado. My grandson in Florida started a new job at SeaWorld and couldn’t get the time off. The grandson in College surprised me and brought his girl-friend. My son in Virginia couldn’t take any more time off, but I’ll see him in a couple weeks. Every year I wish the same thing. To have us all together again. Maybe next year.
Every Christmas table has been blessed with a fruitcake. Every family has the sory of the fruitcake that is re-gifted for years. A form of immortality I think.
You have to understand about fruitcake. It is a mix of candied fruit, nuts, raisins, and a very thick cake batter that is baked then soaked in brandy. Or rum. Or sherry. For weeks. Or months. Or a year if no-one wants to eat the heavy thing.
This year I baked a ten pound fruitcake. Honest. That was the name of the recipe. And it felt like ten pound after I finished.
I wrapped it in sherry soaked cheesecloth, wrapped it with foil and put it in a cool place to flavor. Every week for three weeks, I re-soaked the cheesecloth and therefore the cake. It smelled delicious.
The day before my family gathered for Christmas dinner I decorated the top with green and red cherries. It looked so festive!
Understand, my sons are willing to try anything I put on the table. I expected the fruitcake to be a big hit; instead it was, ah, something else.
Everyone protested being too full to try a piece.
Hard to keep up the denial as they scoffed up the cheesecake, the apple pie, the mince pie, and the oatmeal-raisin cookies.
A good-hearted daughter-in-law cut two slices and quartered them on a plate. The plate circled the table of twenty guests and returned with one piece gone. I think my grandson fed it to the dog.
I wasn’t disappointed. Not much.
The funny thing is that as the evening progressed and we drank coffee and chatted, the fruitcake quarters disappeared along with several more slices.
When we shared out the left-overs so I wouldn’t eat them all, several more slices went out the door.
Will I be making fruitcake next year? Maybe. It might be more fun to make a Boche de Noel (Christmas Log). I’ll see.
Hope your Holiday, be it Christmas, Hannukah or something else, be joyous.
Putting up a Christmas tree can be a big production. Although many people are going with the artificial, lighted tree, I still love picking out a tree.
I’m fortunate because I don’t have to go to a corner tree lot for a tree that was cut a month ago, shipped in a truck and stood against a wire fence.
I go to the Christmas tree farm and prowl the acres of trees for the one right for my living room.
It has to be this tall and that wide with lots of branches for all the ornaments we collected over the years. Although any seven foot tree will do, the fun is in wandering around for hours debating which one has the exactly perfect shape.
What should it be this year?
A Fraser Fir? These grow so tall and full they are called the Cadillac of trees. The branches have flat needles that are silver-blue on the underside. They can hold the heaviest of ornaments with grace.
How about a Blue Spruce? This old-fashioned Christmas tree has short hard needles that can be awkward to hang ornaments on. I think it’s a challenge to have the kids work on this one. They complain it bites. It can be bluish or green in color.
A Balsam? This tree tends to be the one at stands. It can be a good choice, but the bottom must be recut and kept watered.
White Spruce have short hard needles, with branches not good for heavy ornaments.
A Concolor Fir? I consider this my favorite tree. The thick branches are filled with long blue- green needles and can be crowded with decorations. It has a wonderful citrusy scent that fills the house. It will last for months.
Any tree needs to be kept watered. If the place is on the cool side that helps keep it fresh.
And if you’re into recycling, place the tree in the center of your yard after the holidays for the birds. How about hanging suet and birds seed packets on the branches?
Christmas is a special time of year for me. Putting up the lights, arranging the lawn decorations, dragging the boxes from storage, wrapping gifts
and making wreaths to hang on the door fill my life with joy.
I love decorating the Christmas tree. When I was a child, blown glass reindeer and lights that bubbled hung from the branches. Silver tinsel twisted and spun in the slightest breeze. If a light went out, my father unscrewed the bulb and replaced it. Half the decorations were hand-made. All my school efforts dangled in the front.
So when I married and my Mom gave me an ornament with the date I was thrilled. I hang that tiny elf swinging on a star near the top of my tree every year. It was joined by an elf with my daughter’s name.
My Mom started a lovely tradition. She gave each of the children an ornament with their name and the year. I kept it going after she died.
So as the children grew, a soccer player dangled here, a wrestler there, several girls dressed as ballerinas stepped high. A typewriter joined them, then a book. A black dog with a bone commemorated Farful our old dog. The paper chain decorated with Christmas stickers from my daughter’s third grade loops between branches. Over the years, the tree became so crowded the branches bent toward the floor.
So when my children married, it wasn’t too difficult to hand off a box of ornaments with their name and the past years to the couple. Time rushes by. Every Christmas I see those old ornaments with a sad sigh, until one of my grandchildren points with an excited grin.
Everyone is writing about Thanksgiving, but what do we really know?
The Indians and the Pilgrims sharing a great feast to celebrate the harvest is the popular tale. There is evidence of a different story, a love story to be exact.
Several years before I wrote my first book, I visited Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts. It’s a pretty place on the Connecticut-Massachusetts line. They have an excellent collection of historical items.
In the museum was a display of letters written by the children and grandchildren of the original settlers. The Pilgrims didn’t leave many personal writing, probably since they had no spare time or energy for simple pleasures. Or maybe their letters were sent back to Europe.
I spent several hours reading the missives. They described incredible hardship and fortitude by a people who didn’t understand how terrible the conditions would be. Since the spelling, language and writing were all in a manner suited to that age, they were difficult to understand.
Then I found it. The truth about Thanksgiving and what they were celebrating.
Do you remember the story of Squanto teaching the Pilgrims to plant corn? Popular writing says he did it out of the goodness of his heart. Guess what? The truth is Squanto was a lovelorn suitor for the hand of a widowed Pilgrim lady.
Indian culture demanded he show his future in-laws that he could feed the family. Squanto was under the mistaken belief the Pilgrims were one family. Remember they called each other brother and sister?
So what did he do? He taught them how to provide for themselves.
The letters say he married his fair lady. Other letters mention several marriages. Many died that first winter and those left were starving. In those harsh, desperate times I bet those women thought themselves blessed.
The biggest quandary was what to call their children. Were they Indians? Or Pilgrims? The solution seemed to be to call them what they desired.
As a love story, it can’t be beat.
And those letters were on loan and no longer on display.