I remember my mother always told me that you should never have candles displayed in your home that haven’t been lit.
“Did you see all of those candles? Such a shame, never been lit, you can tell. Just for show,” she said to me after leaving someone’s house one day when I was a little girl.
As an adult, before she would come visit, I would walk around my house lighting new candles and blowing them out in preparation for her arrival so that she would see the black wicks.
While she never told me exactly why she felt this way, I surmised that it was because an unlit candle shows that you like beautiful things, but you don’t want to mess them up by actually using them.
To that end, when my mother died, I found an entire dresser full of partially burned candles - all with black wicks and varying degrees of wax drippings. This didn’t include the beautiful scented candles in almost every room of her home. Some of my most vivid memories of my childhood and my mother include candlelight and soft music in the background.
Since her death, I have made it a point to always light candles, in my bathroom, in my kitchen, in my bedroom, in my home office. My children have even inherited my passion for candles, so much so that I am always blowing them out when they leave one unattended for long periods of time in order to keep the house from burning down. But I indulge them because it reminds them of their grandmother and makes for a peaceful and sweet smelling teen abode.
While I love the smell and the mood that a lit candle sets, I especially like what it stands for — a life lived to the fullest, not a life where we put precious things on a shelf and look at them, but don’t use them. For this same reason, I use my grandmother’s silver and my mother’s wedding china and even run it through the dishwasher (I know I will get a million notes on this, mea culpa in advance).
Part of my 2016 journey is to create more peace in my world, and what a better way to do that than to light a candle, inhale its lovely sent, and watch the shadows it casts dance across a room. Try it, I think you will agree …
Amanda is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including some on motherhood. Find her here on Mondays.