Editorial board Christmas tradition: A glowing memory

December 23, 2013 

On a table in my office rests a Christmas tree.

It stands just shy of 18 inches tall, has 8 nearly bare branches and two ornaments.

In my estimation it's a bit over the top. It's not real and wasn't my idea.

My efficient and seasonally festive Executive Assistant Kati Toms was somewhat taken aback, my first Christmas here, when I rebuffed her suggestion that my office needed decorating for the holidays. I'm simply not a carol-singing, tinsel-hanging, ho-ho-ho sort of guy. But some people just can't help themselves and one December morning last year this thing appeared on the table in my office. It was adorned with just one red ornament.

When I'm seated in at my desk, that small red globe is directly in my line of sight. It often makes me smile and ranks as one of my favorite ornaments.

My favorite ornament of all times has been lost for decades.

As a child, more than half a century ago, we had a small box that contained a couple strands of lights and assorted Christmas tree ornaments that the family had collected over the years. In the bottom of the box were about a dozen small tin rosettes with clips on the bottom and a small candle holder in the middle.

According to "Little Grandma" those ornaments held small candles that were used to light the tree when she was a child, long before electricity. Despite my father's legitimate concerns about burning down the house, using these clips to light our tree with real candles for a couple minutes each Christmas became a tradition.

A Christmas tree basking in warm flickering lights of real candles is magical.

The tradition lasted only a few years and I was still a child the last time those candles were lit. If I recall correctly, one year we had to buy all new ornaments as dad somehow misplaced the entire box when packing things away the previous Christmas.

Surprisingly this tradition is re-emerging, according to Tom Conrad, a Philadelphia-based antiques dealer and blogger for the Huffington Post. The use of real candles and replicas of antique ornaments is growing amongst those seeking a "slower" Christmas, according to Conrad.

I'll join your insurance agent and local fire department in discouraging you from joining this movement. As tempted as I might be to try and recapture those moments, they are probably best left as memories. It wouldn't be the same anyway without Little Grandma.

Thanks for letting me share. Have a wonderful Christmas.

-- Gregg McConnell, publisher

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