Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Christmas Candles

Bayberry, Christmas Garden, Blueberry, Mistletoe = conflict

What is it with candles this time of year? Perhaps it’s only a coincidental thing, with Christmas and winter solstice occurring at roughly the same time, but whatever the reason, vast quantities of burning paraffin and the holiday season seem to have become inseparable.

Like most men I think candles are fine, but there’s no real passion involved. Men are not prone to thumbing through mail order candle catalogs endlessly. Nor are we drawn to large candle displays, standing for hours, mesmerized by the various shapes and colors that paraffin can be tortured into. 

Given the attraction that campfires and barbecues generally hold for men, women find it baffling we aren’t more into candles. However, there’s a very important difference between a campfire, or barbecue, and a flaming stick of paraffin: coals. Men would be infinitely more interested in candles if they produced coals. A guy simply can’t get excited about anything that burns, unless there are coals to poke. Candles are woefully short on coals.

Candles offer pathetic coals. You work with what you've got.
“Honey, what are you doing?”

“Poking the coal on this candle. Sure is a puny little thing.”   

“That’s because it’s not a coal. It’s the tip of the wick. Now, please quit fiddling with my candle.”

“I was about done anyway. The paperclip was getting too hot to hold.” 

In actual fact, the modern candle’s glow is only a minor point of attraction. Women are primarily drawn to candles because of their fragrances. It’s worth noting, however, that there are candles made without scent. Such candles aren’t made to be burned, but only used as decoration. They are an exception to the fragrance thing. According to the official rules of candle fanaticism, a candle doesn’t have to stink, but only if it’s cute enough.

“Oh, Margaret! What a great candle!” 

“Isn’t it cute? I’ve never seen an aardvark candle before. Of course, I simply had to have it.”

“It’s just so darling, with the way it’s sitting up, it’s little nose in the air, begging for ants. Too bad it doesn’t have a tongue sticking out.” 

“Well, to be honest, it did. But it was a wick, so I cut it off before that idiot husband of mine could light it and ruin the whole thing.”

“Good move. Tell me, does he still poke at your candle wicks with a paperclip?” 

Decorative wax aside, the candle industry’s motto seems to be, “Candles that smell the most, will sell the most.” The candle aficionado’s take on the matter is, unless a regular candle provides some sort of “aroma therapy” it’s just another source of feeble light, and is accorded no more significance than a flashlight with weak batteries.

The entire fragrance focus has gotten completely out of hand. We don’t even identify candles by color anymore, opting instead for the fragrance assigned to the color. 

“You want one of these red candles?”

“No, those are Shining Cinnamon. I need an Apple Spice.” 

“Apple Spice... Is that white or green?”

“It’s that one, right there.” 

“But that’s red too!”

“Yes, but it’s a more muted red. I’m working on a subtle effect. Maybe I’ll go with a votive in Bayberry to set it all off.” 

It’s been explained to me - very slowly and with great patience - that scents add to the ambiance offered by dozens of candles working together to create the perfect, soothing, Christmas conflagration. The problem with mixing all the various scents available is that, even though two scent colors may work together visually, the actual fragrances might not. In fact, for the safety of anyone with anything less than a severe sinus infection, there are some scents that shouldn’t be allowed within miles of one another.

“Oh, man! That’s it, dog! You’re going outside.” 

“It’s not the dog, dear. It’s just a little candle conflict. I think the Glowing Pine and the Holly Tart aren’t completely compatible with the Ancient Eggnog.”

“You sure? I dunno... smells like Holmes has been drinking out of the tree stand again.”   

For every candle lit, there’s a need to hold it. It’s a common sense thing, really: never lay your candle down while it’s burning.

Candle enthusiasts love to encourage each other to push the envelope and experiment. And all the gift swapping that takes place this time of year is the perfect excuse for not only pushing the envelope, but also the edge of good taste and safety. The joy of gift giving is how we once came to be the proud owners of a huge multiple candle holder. 

Apparently, the makers of that ultra-high capacity candle holder wanted to make the average Dark Ages castle owner green with envy.  Our Sheet O’ Flames (Deluxe Model A2) was a wrought iron contraption that could have easily passed as something left over from Vlad the Impaler’s reign of terror back in the thirteenth century. That puppy could produce some serious lumens and heavy duty fragrance! It also produced dangerous amounts of BTU’s. When a fireman friend saw it he immediately declared its use a threat to public safety, so we got rid of it.

Too bad. Holmes really liked it when we fired up the Sheet O’ Flames. He could drink from the tree stand all he wanted and nobody could ever tell. 

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