How does the light of candles, Christmas lights, or other kinds of light enhance your winter nights? We’d love to hear your paragraphs or essays on this topic!
By Debra Steckler Valpey, Normandy Park, Washington
tiny bright lamps twirl
and twinkle within my holiday tree
and I am comforted
electric icicles on my mantle
illuminate expectant stockings
hung with hope on Christmas Eve
a candle at dinner or at breakfast
reminds me that I have vision
to face the chill of day or night
after dark when I must venture forth
for a quart of milk or loaf of bread
neon lights in grocery stores my welcome mat
my neighbors shine light in their doorways
and lace lights along their roof tops
a signal to me that I am not alone
street lamps guide my path
as I walk my little dog
along her accustomed path
and when the sun does rise I greet her
with outstretched arms and a thanks
for her daily visit to little old me
Candlelight on the Christmas Tree
Mieke Tazelaar, Seattle
Christmas in our Netherlands home and community had its own spiritual quality, quite apart from the magic of St. Nicholas on December 6. By this time, we had already experienced the excitement of the Good Saint on our rooftop and in our home. Even in the midst of our 1943 war-torn country, our parents made this a festive occasion, as we gathered the candy tossed to us by the hand of Sinterklaas’ helper. We opened the gifts he had given to us as we approached the stately figure in a living room chair, now transformed into a throne. It had been a time for fun, but also of awe.
Christmas was all about the story of a baby born in a shelter, to people far from their own home, and of the light that streamed from afar, surrounding the family. Our fragrant tree represented that light. Candles had been placed carefully in their holders, in such a way that they would not touch any branches or needles. We watched each candle transform to a flickering light by touch of a match held by my father, as the tree became brighter and brighter. Below the tree stood a bucket of water and a washcloth, just in case. Now and then, a candle would sputter and go dark, as the odor of extinguished candle filled the room with its pleasant fragrance.
But it was the Christmas Eve church service that I remember with the greatest fondness and wonder. A tall tree that nearly reached the ceiling dominated the right side of the sanctuary, aglow with hundreds of illuminated candles. We found seats far enough away so we could see the entire tree, and my brothers and I nudged each other and pointed, when one of us noticed a candle beginning to flicker, sometimes sending sparks into the air.
As we sang Christmas carols, our eyes focused on two men standing at the edge of the balcony, close to the top half of the tree, and on two more standing on the ground floor. Each held a long pole, and when a candle sputtered, one man would touch the failing wick with a wet sponge at the end of his pole. We would sniff the air as the aroma of the spent candle wafted through the sanctuary.
My brothers and I sat in awe, watching the illumined tree, knowing that the four custodians kept us all safe. And yet, we wished secretly that just a small, but satisfying, fire would start somewhere on that tree.
The conflagration never happened, and the feeling of peace from the light soon captured our souls with joy and hope for our troubled world. The darkness of winter and war had been vanquished, at least for a few magical hours.
Awaiting your entries for the December Challenge!