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November 24, 2011

The Why of Wicks


I read a slogan on the bottom of a candle that said, “Remember the moments that matter.” As if this candle, by lighting it, would help me mark the important times with intentionality — the flame would stamp and sear the sacred.

But I light candles to holy-fy moments that really don’t matter at all, the groggy moments. Don’t you? The early morning, my eyes weighed with sandbags, but I have to pour milk into sippy cups; the late afternoon after I’ve edited an essay and there are still two swigs left of my Diet Coke; Sunday nights over Domino’s pizza; Saturdays with pancakes; Tuesdays during spin cycles. We will have our dinner club over for a meal in our formal dining room and I will forget to light the votives, but I become compulsive over Goldfish and apple juice with wick lighting. Candles are an afterthought on holidays but a priority on autumn Wednesdays. They give off catacomb light in the broad daylight of just-Windexed windows. They glow and glow and glow as my kids grow and grow and grow; they’re a quiet cheer in a sometimes-shrill Crayola chaos. They stamp and sear the simple, the squalor, the silly — sacred.

“Remember that all moments matter” — that should be the slogan.

Even this moment? At a computer?

Thanksgiving should not be a time for vague thankfulness for general blessings, but a reminder to enter this blessing, this moment, this difficult/sad/beautiful instant at 3:04 p.m. and still be able to say, “it is well,” and “I am grateful” and “God is good.” In her book One Thousand Blessings, Ann Voskamp calls the generalized gratefulness we say we possess while eating turkey and dressing a “smear” — that if you’re not grateful for something very specific in a very specific moment, you’ve smeared God’s blessings into a brown nonentity. You can’t talk about thankfulness for terms like health, family, work, community. To push the blossom out of the bud, you have to get specific.

So, now, at 3:06 p.m., I would like to get specific.

(Hold on, let me light a candle.)

(Ok, I’m back.)

Here we go:

- For Drew, when he sings, “One, two, fwee, four, tell me that you yuv me more.”
- For Drew, when he talks to himself. And when he giggles to himself at night, even though it’s creepy as hell.
- For Drew, when he tells me, “You yook cute, Mommy.” (Twice this week!)
- For Drew’s olive eyes.
- That at least he pees in the potty.
- For Madeline, for her gremlin grunt.
- For Madeline, when she stuffs that blanket so far down her throat you believe she’s rehearsing a circus novelty.
- For her Lauren Hutton teeth.
- For the way she pats my back when I hold her, like she’s the one holding me.
- For Gordon, how he’s vacuuming the TV room right now.
- How I didn’t have to ask him.
- How this is commonplace.

How I’m only just getting started, and it’s only 3:10…


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