A Christmas Memory

Truman Capote wrote a tale with the same name, but his was about fruitcake. Nothing wrong with fruitcake, but I have my own Christmas memory.

When I was about ten, I made a candle for my parents in school. We melted down our red crayons and poured them into molds, sprinkled them with glitter, and inserted wicks. Mine looked much as you would imagine it did, but it was handmade and I was rather thrilled about it. I wrapped it and hid it under my bed.

That weekend, my dog found it and ate it and then vomited up waxy glitter all over the shag rug. Oh, what an ash heap of disappointment and failure. I couldn’t tell my parents about their ruined present, so I called my sister Lynn and wept bitterly. By then she was married and had her own home, so she drove over and picked me up and brought me to her house. She bought wax for us to simmer over the stove, a wick, and a pretty glass jar for us to pour the melted wax into. We wrapped the jar with a ribbon and sprig of holly. So much more beautiful than the one I had made at school. Both were handmade, but this one was made with love for me.

What a brief memory. But thirty years on, it shimmers in my mind…her happiness in helping me, her optimism that we could make a new candle, and that it would be fun. It was! We sat in her kitchen and she was excited to do this for me. I’m sure that, in her early twenties, she had other things she wanted to do on a Saturday in December, but I only know that now. Then, it felt like she would have rather done nothing else. Who knows? Maybe she did.

Christmas Eve today. It’s a hard road, and make no mistake…my first Christmas without her and my mom. What a long morning this has been, simultaneously wanting to make the holiday fun for my kids, yet there it is, those prickly fingers of dark dread creeping toward me in every room.

I’ll light a candle, though. For her, for them both. There will be a pinpoint of flame, a comet, a star following me when night wraps a velvet blanket around me tonight. A light in the darkness when all others have dimmed.