When lighting a candle . . .

. . . it is best to make a wish. Or so my mother told me.

So when I found myself on Christmas Eve, in single-digit weather, lighting hundreds of candles lining my street, I had a wealth of wishes.luminaries

I decided not to be greedy. As I lit the luminaries in front of each neighbor’s house, I thought about them. And asked for blessings upon them.

This could all sound so sappy and artificial and contrived, couldn’t it?

Except I’m no saint. And I don’t ask for blessings lightly.

A bit of background: a neighbor had asked members of our block if we wanted to start a new tradition this Christmas Eve, lining our sidewalks with luminaries. We agreed this was a wonderful idea, creating a bit of visual magic for the young kids, as well as us older “kids.”

Thus began Project Luminary, an effort which seemed to create magic not just for us, but for all driving down our street. The normally racing cars drove slowly and I could see the occupants smiling and pointing out the window. Which helped combat my discomfort from the cold as I lit candle after candle.

I had missed the luminary creation get-together (at the airport picking up my sister). I had missed the luminary placement time (frantically baking cookies). So I was not surprised to find just myself and two male neighbors out there for the lighting job. Note to self: next year, make the creation crew if only for the shelter of a heated garage.

I was asking for blessings to keep my fingers from feeling the numbness fast coming on. To keep my mind off of the fact that this was the first Christmas Eve without my kids—ever. And of course because asking for blessings seemed like a good thing to do on Christmas Eve.

I’m only human. I stuck to the houses whose occupants I could love without difficulty. Maybe next year I’ll try for the difficult ones. Like I said, no saint.

So I sent my love and support to the family who, along with a joyful wedding this year, had also seen two deaths—one member who lived a good life and one who never got beyond a few months’ gestation. I could see my neighbor and her recently widowed mother through the bay window, her mother sitting at the kitchen table as my neighbor cooked for her and they talked. What a beautiful example of keeping on.

To the older woman we call “Grandma Moore,” I sent wishes for strength. Instead of her bowling league and active lifestyle, she had been dealing with a year of surgeries. She got out there every clear day to walk with her walker. It began with down the driveway and back. She was now up to five houses and back. Love her spirit. Did I mention that she is 90 years old?doc50c1625b02d327816576511

To the busy families with young kids, I wished for patience and the joy that can come from chaos, provided that chaos comes from a big love.

To the elderly gentleman who had looked even more crotchety (which I had not thought possible) since his furry faithful companion had died, I sent hope. For new beginnings. And yes, his new beginning came in the form of another furry friend just a couple of weeks ago. He still does not really smile, but his scowl is friendlier (another thing I had not thought possible).

To the woman whose family I can’t quite define, I sent energy. Does she always look so tired because her daughter and grandson are too much for her to handle? Because of the money woes renting a house might denote? I’m not sure and it’s none of my business. But I wished her more spring in her step. And someone to fill her tank, as she seems to fill her loved ones’.

I won’t go on because these are the people that have been placed in my path, not yours. But I’m sure you have some.

Next time you light a candle, think of yours, won’t you?

I’m just naïve, or wise, enough to believe it makes a difference.


15 Comments Add yours

  1. A lovely tradition to begin, your street must have looked wonderful with all those lights. And a reminder that you never know exactly what is going on behind all those doors. Made me think about my neighbours and the relationships (or non-relationships) we have on our street.

  2. shelly says:

    Such a good message. Sometimes I am quick to judge someone who might be going through something I can’t imagine….Beautifully written.

  3. Colleen says:

    How beautiful! I send my blessings to those in the neighborhood too.

  4. Love this. It looks so beautiful, as is your writing.

  5. What a generous loving spirit you are, may it come back to you tenfold.

    1. candidkay says:

      I think that’s about the nicest wish/blessing anyone could ask for me:). Thank you very much–for reading and your kind thoughts.

  6. Ooo! I love the luminaries and of course, the thoughts when placing them by all your neighbors. Made me think of how I haven’t been a very engaged neighbor over the past few years, dealing with life: aging and dying parents, broken foot, and exhaustion recently diagnosed as severe sleep apnea (soon to be remedied by a c-pap machine!).


    1. candidkay says:

      Machine will work wonders. My ex had sleep apnea and the machine truly changed our lives.

  7. kathy madigan says:

    As usual…LOVE!!! They always bring tears to my eyes!!

  8. What a beautiful tradition and a warmth of spirit from yourself that you were able to focus on your neighbours and gratitudes, rather than your own loss of being without your children.

    1. candidkay says:

      You read these trite passages telling you to focus on others when you’re feeling down–and yet, it works. Not so trite after all. I had a lovely Xmas Eve with my sister and a friend. Thanks for reading . . .

  9. kelly says:

    We always drive down your street on Christmas Eve because it looks so beautiful! I love your idea of making wishes and prayers as you light a candle. I have done it in many churches but never when I am at home. I will try and remember to do that whenever I light a candle from now on.

  10. markbialczak says:

    This is a poignant process, Kay, and I hope it indeed becomes a neighborhood tradition for you.

    1. What a wonderful tradition! And so sweet of you to make a wish for your dear neighbors! Very well written as usual…

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