Monday, December 27, 2010

Silent Night (Almost)

Christmas Eve conjures up certain mental images for me -- every year, the same.  It's a well-lit kitchen with baking projects happening simultaneously:

sugar cookies, cinnamon rolls, breakfast casserole, dinner rolls.  It's Christmas carols played on low volume in the other room. 

It's dressing up in our Christmas finery, and posing before the Christmas tree.  It's bundling up and heading to Christmas Eve service at church, and trying to keep the kids quiet in the pews. 

It's standing in the darkened sanctuary among a circle of celebrating neighbors, each of us with a tiny twinkling candle, singing Silent Night into the glimmering darkness.

This year, that moment came with a new twist.  Mia, at five-years-old, wanted her very own candle.  And I, filled with Christmas Eve bliss, agreed that she was old enough to try.  As the congregation slowly filed around the outer edges of the room, singing, she held her unlit candle with determination and pride.  She danced quietly, waiting for the light to pass from candle to candle around the circle.  Finally, she held perfectly still while her daddy tilted his light to hers, lighting her candle for the first time. 

Her smooth cheeks glowed with a shy smile, her eyes glittering in the reflected flame.  She stared at it with wonder.  Tears filled my own eyes as I marveled at her grown-up participation, and then....

She screamed.

A tiny drip of melted wax had touched her fist, and before any of us knew what was going on, exactly, she reacted decisively.

Thwack! went the burning candle, thrown forcefully to the carpet by my betrayed daughter.  The candle's flying arc swooped another few hot drops of wax onto Mia's fingers, and her scream became a howl.  The 50 year old carpet of the sanctuary floor put out the candle's flame with ease (-- I'm sure it's seen worse). 

Silent Night went on, while Justin rescued Mia by hauling her into the hallway. 

Maybe next year, I thought as we left church that night.  But Mia spoke up as if she'd been privy to my thoughts:

I'm never EVER going to hold a candle again, mama.  It's just too dangerous!

It was a memorable Christmas Eve -- not Silent, for sure.  But Night, I've learned, so rarely is.  Especially not when there are preschoolers and toddlers around.


  1. Ha, this made me laugh! Don't children spice up every moment? (I referenced Silent Night in my blog post today too... no hot wax involved, though ;)

  2. Memorable, yes :)
    Earlier this month we did our candlelight caroling, and I was so worried about wax spilling on the kids! Thankfully it was outside... so they had mittens on to catch the wax...
    Hope you guys had a very merry Christmas :)

  3. Oh yes! I laughed so hard. Someday she will too. They do make these plastic candle holders that don't have any cut edges for children. I have a couple that we use so that the kids don't get hot wax on them. They are shaped kind of like a little cup and the wax never goes on the fingers. I don't know where I got mine though, you could do a google search......

  4. I'm sure she is not the first (or the last) to yelp and drop. At least that's what I tell myself every time my kids stands out in church!

  5. Oh, that's too funny! You'll remember that forever.

  6. This year, they handed our glow sticks to a very young crowd. I missed the candles, but both girls loved the glow (and set them up to show santa the way later on).

  7. That is adorable! And I bet you won't have to worry about her playing with matches, after this!

  8. Do you ever think, maybe that's much closer to the real thing? As much as I love our tradition of candles and Silent Night, I'm just not so sure that a real God coming in real human form entering the real messiness of real life arrived on a Silent Night with no spills or howls. Thanks to Miss Mia for reminding us of that!

  9. So funny! Don't feel bad, we didn't even MAKE it to the candle lighting, we had to leave right after communion because Ben insisted on throwing his Matchbox cars in the pew in front of us and making an awful racket.

  10. You know, I read this post days and days ago I keep thinking about it, but I haven't been able to comment yet because it freaks me out...and then it's so funny...and then it freaks me out! I'm SO glad she didn't set the church--or herself!---on fire!


Hmm...And how did that make you FEEL?