Love’s Pure Light
The Lady-of-the-house has her bayberry candles ready in her candle box for Christmastime. Tapers are traditionally stored horizontally to prevent warping. Dipped candles can also hang by their wicks but she decided to tuck a few into a basket with faux greenery to cheer up the fireplace.
Do you see the gingerbread couple in front of the candle mold? A creative friend made the gingerbread man for her last December. This December from the same friend she was happy to receive the gingerbread lady who holds a garland of the tiniest yo-yos you’ve ever seen. The yo-yos are of a peppermint stripe fabric.
A bayberry candle stands in a Colonial wall sconce with some faux holly and berries. At night it sparkles. The mirrors multiple the flame and light the dinner table. Leave a taper burning too long and it can make a mess. Therefore the Lady-of-the-house likes to burn hers no more than an hour at a time.
Honey bees where not prevalent in early America as we might suppose. In the Colonies most candles were made of animal fat: beef and mutton tallow. They did not smell at all pleasant when burning, quite the opposite in fact, and they were smoky.
Bayberry candles, however, were luxurious in comparison. They perfumed the air, burned longer and cleaner. Wax is derived from the fruit coat of the bayberry. Directions to the Colonial homemaker were to cook the berries in a kettle of boiling water. (The kettle, no doubt, hung on the crane in a wide fireplace.) Boil until the fruit coat melts and its wax floats to the surface. Let cool. Skim the wax. Melt this wax in a kettle and dip wicking into it until well coated.
Committed to Homemaking
It can take up to a half bushel of berries to make a single candle. No wonder these candles were reserved for the celebration of the holy days of Christmas. A whole hillside of bayberry bushes it seems would be required to make a few candles. What long tedious work it must have been bending over a hot kettle inside a dangerous fireplace – dangerous, that is, for someone who wore a complete set of long skirts and no shoes. And a homemaker’s days were already well occupied with the many physical demands of crude household chores. What remarkable lengths she took in her desire to add something sweet to her household, to mark the coming of Christ as a special time to be celebrated. It proved her love for her family.
A Fictional Visitor
Another candle stands in the foyer. It is surrounded by glass to protect it from the drafts of cold air that enter when welcoming guests at the front door. Does it look like Bob Cratchit is paying a visit? The sealskin top hat is in poor condition and is disintegrating at the seams with age, having been worn in the 19th century. The Lady-of-the-house sets it out at Christmastime because the reading, listening, or viewing of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol is a tradition in her family.
All the members of the family (even the Man-of-the-house) vote Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol to be tip-top. This cartoon contrasts selfishness and fear with pity, love and joy. The melodies by Jule Styne and lyrics by Bob Merrill are catchy and sweet. The Lady-of-the-house can hum every one.
Now the Lady-of-the-house pays her biggest compliment. In most so-called Christmas films the name of Christ is commonly not given a holiday-glimmer-of-a-mention. This film, however, breaks secular rules. It includes the singing of Silent Night. Moreover, characters seem to comfort themselves by it. In his story Dickens refers only to the singing of a “Christmas song.” Was it Stephen Warbeck, responsible for the music, who specified Silent Night? If so bless him. The Lady-of-the-house cherishes all its verses and ends this post with the third verse. When lighting her candles she thinks of them.
Silent night! Holy night!
Son of God, love’s pure light
Radiant beams thy holy face,
With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord at thy birth,
Jesus, Lord at thy birth.
Joseph Mohr (1792-1848)
John freeman Young (1820-85) translated the verses leaving out “for” making “beams” a verb not a noun.
Thoughts and Sentiments are Welcome