Things of Winter Beauty and Wonder: Advent day Four

Day Four


Ever since I was a very small child I have loved candles. In a time before I have many conscious memories, my father decided one year at Christmas that he would not put the usual electric fairy lights on the Christmas tree. So that year, he did things differently. He and my mother always used to wait till my brother and I went to bed on Christmas eve before putting up the tree and any decorations. That year, he went one step further. When we came down, excited to see if Father Christmas had been, Dad hurried to the living room; late the previous evening, he had fixed tiny candles to the branches of the Christmas tree. As we ate breakfast, Dad lit all the candles and called us in. I have no actual memory of this event; I was probably two or possibly three at the time. But it has become part of me now and I believe my love of candle-light originates there. My mum hates candles and is scared of things catching fire, so there were few opportunities during my childhood to enjoy them (you can’t count the time of the three day week, power cuts and the so-called winter of discontent; candles were hardly a delight during those times!)

Candles add magic to every day life; they soften and sweeten even the most mundane of events. They make eyes sparkle and faces become more beautiful and mysterious. I would not like to rely on them alone for light, but being able to choose them to beautify a room is a special delight. Beeswax candles make the most glorious of candles, the light they shed being especially golden and mellow, and the added bonus is the scent of honey and propolis that they exude as they burn. One of these days I’ll make some with our own beeswax.

Circle of Friends


One of my friends gave me the candle holder shown in the picture as a birthday present last year. It’s supposed to represent an unbroken circle of friendship; the shadows that the stylised figures cast are somehow rather more powerful when viewed like this than the simple clay sculpture.

I don’t think in some ways we ever know how far our shadows reach, how many lives we reach when we set out, but I would like to take this as a chance to say that across oceans and thousands of miles, I have felt the friendship of people I may in all probability never meet face to face but whose shadow(or influence) I have seen here in my little study in the east of England.

We all cast a shadow, have an effect somewhere. I’d like to thank you all for yours, here.