Taking Down the Candles

March. Time to take the window candles down. The ones I used to call “Christmas window candles.” Every year, on the first of December, I open the sturdy shoe box that holds them and begin untangling their cords. I carry the candles upstairs and carefully place them in our four front windows.

Then comes the hard part–finding four extension cords of appropriate length. The old farmhouse I live in is rich in character but poor when it comes to the number of electrical outlets in each room. Meaning that each candle has to have an extension cord long enough to plug it in but not long enough to make us trip over it. I head back downstairs to rustle through the box labeled “extension cords” in hopes that, last year when I went through this same ordeal, I took time to label which cord went with which candle.

Nope.

But I’m pretty sure the brown one should be attached to the candle in the hall window and plugged into the outlet behind the bed in Leigh’s room. Meaning that I have to scoot under the bed with a pen light in my teeth to thread the cord behind the bed legs and plug it in while trying not to choke to death on dust bunnies. Only to discover that the cord is two feet too short.

Rats. I suddenly remember that it’s the green cord, not the brown one, that works with the hall candle. And so it goes until all four candles are plugged in.

Time to turn them on. Only three light up. Back downstairs to rustle through the box labeled “odd light bulbs” in hopes that it contains a fancy tapered bulb. It does. I carry the bulb upstairs, where I soon discover that it has a fat base instead of a skinny base, meaning that it probably fit the breakfast room light fixture we replaced years ago, but not the window candle. Back downstairs. Maybe a night-light bulb will work and, wonder of wonders, there are lots of them in the box. Halleluiah! All four window candles are finally lit.

I hurry out to the front yard to admire the lovely way the candles glow in the deepening twilight. But it’s really not all that lovely. The candles are cockeyed. Three tall twenty-five-watt bulbs and one squatty four-watt. Nothing to be done but replace all the fancy tapered bulbs with plain old night-light bulbs.

All through December, when the clock strikes four and darkness descends, I climb the steep narrow stairs and turn on the window candles. At bedtime, I climb the steep narrow stairs again and turn them off. On January 2, when we take the Christmas decorations down, the candles go back into the shoe box where they’ll stay for the next eleven months.

But not this year.

What’s bleaker than a night in January, unless it’s a night in February? Why not extend the glow of Christmas into the cold, dark, wet, muddy, depressing months of winter? And what better way to do that than with window candles?

Every evening at dusk, I’ve continued to ascend the stairs and mutter that it’s sure cold up there now that the children are grown and gone and the thermostat’s on 58. I quickly flick the candles on and then scoot back to the warm downstairs. Lately, though, I’ve been remiss in my duties. Two or three days at a time pass without my remembering to turn on the candles. And we all know why. The earth is tilting. The sunlight is a little stronger and lasts a little longer. Spring isn’t here yet, but it’s right around the corner.

March. Time to take the window candles down. And this, year I’m bound and determined to label those confounded extension cords.

(March 3, 2013)

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