This is part of my Christmas Memory Challenge, a goal I set for myself to recall 25 things I love about Christmas. You can also check out Shannon's memories here.
Every Christmas, my dad would drag his big red candle out from the Christmas decorations and place it in the kitchen window closest to our front door. He'd decorate it with holly around the bottom creating a festive window display. For the week before Christmas, he'd light the candle as dusk gave way to night and then blow it out before going to bed. On Christmas Eve, he'd let it burn through the night.
It's to let Joseph and Mary know that they are welcome in our house, he'd inform me year after year. Or any traveller seeking shelter during Christmas.* It seemed a little suspect to me to allow 'any traveller' a bed in your home but my dad also lived in a fairly rural area and the only 'travellers'** who ever wandered up our driveway were held in the hands of family friends who were stopping by to say Merry Christmas.
Still, the candle was beautiful. There was something so calming about walking into the darken kitchen, away from the noise of the family gathered in the living room, to find the flickering light dancing off the counter tops and cupboards. While I waited for the kettle to boil for a cup of tea, I'd sit and watch it gracefully flit between the holly branches scattered around it. It was almost hypnotic, the bright but tiny light against the great big dark world beyond the window.
*When I was older, I discovered that this was an Irish tradition which would explain why I didn't know anyone else whose family did this. (I never did learn why the candle had to be red though...)
**a 'traveller' is an alcoholic beverage poured into a publicly acceptable carrier (e.g. Gin and Tonic in a 7-Up bottle)