Welcome to For Your Consideration, a new series about things we love and love to do — and we’d like to give you permission to embrace your authentic self and love them too.
I grew up in a candle home. Is that a thing? Picture this: A house with so many candles that even when summer Virginia thunderstorms knocked out the power for everyone on our block, you couldn’t tell just by looking through the windows of our house because, within half an hour of the outage, my mom had assembled so many candles in so many rooms that we could even see better than we normally could with the lights on.
There were candlesticks and scented candles, but mostly there were tea lights, what seemed to me like hundreds of tea lights scattered throughout our house at all times. It was my sister’s and my job to light them before my mom’s various social events – book club, dinner parties, some group she was in called Soul Sisters that somehow, despite the name, was not gay. We’d remove the burned our tea lights from their votives – the wick, singed black, all that was left in the little circle of foil – and replace them with fresh discs. We were allowed to use butane lighters from a very young age.
I am here to tell you that bringing a candle to a dinner party instead of a bottle of wine is a perfectly reasonable choice. I am here to tell you that a candle, on any occasion, is not a lazy, impersonal gift. There are some beautiful candles out there and a million possibilities for where to put them and let them burn.
You don’t have to stick to the fancy candles. Fill your space with tea lights. They’re cheap, they’re simple, and you’d be surprised how many things you have lying around that can suddenly become a votive for a tea light — mugs, wine glasses, mason jars, a small dish. We have previously established in this series that killing houseplants is fine and expected, but maybe you’re the kind of person who doesn’t want to constantly have a bunch of dead plants reminding you of your failure to take care of something. Get a bunch of candles instead. If you get the lighting right, they look just as good on Instagram, I promise. They also, for some reason, similarly signal that you have your shit together even if you don’t.
This holiday season, light some candles, baby! Had a particularly stressful day at work? Light a candle. Having friends over for some wine and cheese? Light a candle. Too depressed to leave your room? Light a candle on your bedside table for the tiniest spark in the darkness. Celebrating? Light a candle. Someone cheated on you? Light — actually, don’t light a candle. Light their favorite t-shirt on fire, and then light a candle. Maybe one that they bought you or one that you bought together. Light it up and watch that sucker burn. Solid becomes liquid becomes gas. Candles are ephemeral, and this too shall pass.
Did you know you can also make candles? I have never tried it, but I hear it’s a thing! Doesn’t that sound like such a quaint and lovely hobby? Should I start making candles?
It sounds trite, but a candle can genuinely be anything. We light them when people die, and then later on, to remember that they’re gone. Candles can burn for grief or for romance or for relaxation or for lust. The cliché of a sexy candle-lit bedroom? I can verify that it is indeed incredibly sexy. Have you ever smelled the scent of a particular candle and become instantly horny? Please tell me I’m not alone in this.
My favorite candle smells like ginger, and yes, it stresses me the fuck out to think about the fact that it will one day be gone. So, it’s become my special occasion candle. It’s been a while since I last lit it.
Fill your space with candles, because they’re pretty. Fill your space with candles, because they’re temporary. Fill your space with candles, because sometimes you just need to watch something burn until it dissipates.