One of the keenest pleasures I knew as a girl was staying up through long winter nights reading by the light of Christmas candles in our windows. When the Christmas decorations came down from the attic each year, the first things to come out were the electric candles that sat in every window upstairs and down. In my memory the windows of nearly every house in our town were graced by these tiny points of light through the cold months, beaming steadfastly into the deep cold.
I’d forgotten this–in Florida we don’t put candles out and I have none in London. I’ve never noticed them in any windows here, in fact. Those little candles are so many things: a barrier between the cozy warm home and the enormity of the chill outside, a beacon calling to frozen-toed travelers, and a way of looking at things anew. From their windowsill perches they cast unfamiliar shadows in dim rooms–but also dispel some familiar ones.
Visiting my aunt’s house for Christmas with its shining winter candles called back the joy I took in the dark winter months. In hunkering down, in enjoying the softer light. In red gloaming sunsets against bare branches. In crisp cold clear winter nights. In the silence of snow. I forgot the cheer to be found in winter, and remembered only its difficulties. I was just biding my time waiting for spring and long evenings to return. I forgot. I remember now.