May I take you on a tour of my home? You enter through the front door. On one side is the living room, on the other sits the dining room.
The living room looks exactly like it did the day the movers dropped off the furniture. It might as well be cordoned off with red velvet rope and polished brass stanchions. It reminds me of taking the tour of Independence Hall, seeing the quill pen right where Mr. Hancock left it. Nothing has been disturbed over the years.
We don’t use our living room. We vacuum and dust it, just like everyone does. We didn’t use it when I was young either; I’m starting to think it might make a good spot for a hot tub.
Opposite the living room is the dining room. If your family is like mine, when the dining room isn’t being used for folding laundry, building jigsaw puzzles, or preparing taxes, it is used for high holidays, proms, weddings and funerals.
We have a set of china I bought from England on eBay. We’ve probably used it a half dozen times. It’s for special occasions—like the passage of the healthcare reform bill.
Twelve years ago this Thanksgiving I was sitting on the floor of our dining room, inspecting the dishes and silverware when I came upon an unopened box of off-white tapered candles that was tucked away under the starched cotton linens.
It gave me pause. The receipt was taped to the candle box—purchased five years ago. Why? In case we needed them. In case there was an occasion so special as to warrant candles. At the rate we were using them, our candles and china would have lasted for hundreds of years.
I got to thinking, what occasions warrant the lighting of candles?
I almost never had the chance to learn what occasions would cause me to light our candles. Less than two weeks after that Thanksgiving, while watching an episode of the Sopranos, I was having difficulty breathing, a lot of difficulty. I stepped outside to have a cigarette, and to sort out why I could not breath. Collapsing to the floor convinced me that I was having a heart attack.
Less we be distracted, this post is about the candles, not the heart attack.
I remember thinking, as I lay strapped to a gurney in the back of the ambulance, about those darned, unused candles.
A lot of people are saving their candles for more important occasions.
No occasion will ever be any more important than the occasion of simply having tomorrow. These days we burn the candles, stain the linens, and break the crystal and the china. Let’s agree to light a lot of candles this year.
Warm regards, Paul