Even pointless debates about Santa Claus’ race and endless harping about the dangers of consumerism don’t stop the average holiday-lover from enjoying Christmas.
What can enhance the unique atmosphere are lights- such as the ones found on Columbia, MO’s “Magic Tree” of beautiful beacons, its brightness courtesy of the Fletcher family and which has made many a college kid’s nights.
But these are artificial lights, ones that rely on a remote source of power to stay lit.
If you go back a few hundred years, Christmas was a different kind of experience, its sights and smells more like a birthday than an occasion clouded by consumerism.
Does anyone else wonder why we still use candles at all? I guess you could say we keep the scented ones around for obvious reasons. But otherwise, if you aren’t Amish, you’re probably using electricity, battery-powered flashlights, Smartphone screens, and a number of other ways to illuminate dark spaces.
Yet each year, you don’t see too much artificial light being used during my Christmas mass. Instead, a single flame, lit magically by only a match, is passed from wick to wick through pew after pew. You have to wonder why churches blow so much money on candles; it can’t just be for the room to look eerie while everyone joins in a swelling chorus of “Silent Night”.
But regardless, the experience is still haunting, and brings me to ponder Christmas from a different, simpler angle.
Even if you aren’t religious, Christmas is a time to think about the emotions behind the gift-giving. It is a time to think about the concept of ‘being home for the holidays’ and hugging the people you don’t always realize you do cherish. It is a time to stroll down an avenue, stopping to watch your breath swirl up and disappear in a foggy winter swirl.
So in line with the holiday season, candles may be symbolic of a simpler time when lights didn’t stay on- and were not taken for granted.
When you see a candle lit up, an indicator that some traditions do die hard, think of every figurative light in your life. Thanksgiving may be over, but while the nights are still cold, snuggle a little closer to your family. Soak in the appreciation. Like candles, these lights, too, will eventually burn out, but enjoy their warmth while it lasts.
And please, enjoy my cheese while it lasts too.