This time, the memories come from Nola. A custom of her family. Welcome back Nola.
Strange but Wonderful - - -
one of my family's Christmas customs
Have you ever seen real candles lit on a real Christmas tree? Oh, I know – very dangerous! But oh so beautiful to behold! My family always had two Christmas trees – a long-needled Scotch pine for upstairs, and a short-needled variety for the family room in the basement. This family room in itself is quite a sight to see – knotty-pine paneling (aka “boxcar siding”) on the walls, a big stone fireplace, made from rocks called geodes from Bedford, Indiana, Mom's homemade braided rugs on the floors, most of the furnishings are antiques, including oil lamps for light.
But – back to the Christmas trees. Sometimes the tree for the family room was a cut tree and sometimes a live tree with a ball of dirt attached. It would be planted in the yard after the holidays. We had these antique candle holders that had formerly belonged to my grandpa's brother, Uncle Phil. They consisted of a circle of tin cut in a fan shape. Every other blade is bent up to form a cup for the little candle. This piece of tin is soldered to a heavy wire hook, on the end of which is a Plaster of Paris ball, painted red. The ball is for weight to hold the candle upright.
On Christmas night, after the meal was eaten and the dishes washed and put away, and long after the gifts were opened and enjoyed, either Dad or Mom would put a couple more logs on the fire in the fireplace. My brother, being the older of us, always got the honor of lighting the candles on the tree. We always made sure there was a bucket of water beside the tree – just in case!
The candles would be lit, the lights turned off, and we'd sit, usually in near silence, for nearly an hour while the candles slowly burned down. It was a wonderful time to meditate, to remember Christmases past, and for a small kid, a struggle to stay awake! As the candles burned down, my brother would take the brass candle snuffer and extinguish them one by one. For some reason the green candles always seemed to burn down quicker than the rest! After the candles were all out, we'd usually sit for a few more minutes, reflecting on the wonderful Christmas we'd enjoyed.
We kept our trees up until after New Year's Day. On New Year's Eve we'd repeat the candle lighting ceremony. Sometime after New Year's the trees would be taken down, the ornaments and those antique candle holders stored away to wait for the next Christmas. And no, we never set the tree on fire! The only accident we ever had was when I was a teenager – I leaned too close to one of the candles and caught my bangs on fire!
Wow, what a wonderful story. Thank you Nola! That must of been a beautiful site. The tree with the candles all lit...
What are some of your customs? I would love to hear them.
Till next time....