It was a simple box of birthday candles and I did what is now to me unthinkable, but at the time it seemed the only option.
A room full of my husband’s family waited. It had been a day challenging beyond words, that peaked at the moment I realized – now that the cake was made and frosted – now that the kids were fed and washed and dressed and re-washed and re-dressed again – now that my husband was home, and his family were all waiting , right there in the other room… with all the kids… and most especially the birthday child… waiting… It was my moment to make the grand entrance.
So, with no other immediate option available, I did the un-witchy-thinkable and stuck some used candles in the birthday cake, lit them quickly and hurried into the room. We sang, the candles blown out, and everyone ate cake.
My hunch was right, no one noticed. Not then anyway – but through the years, like all misdeeds, the skeletons have accumulated. Or in this case, candle stubs. I found them with this spring’s cleaning and the tin of half-burnt birthday candles, perhaps with all those tiny wishes still attached, entwined together with use and reuse, haunts our kitchen counter yet. Now, with the dawning brightness of a thousand angels on the horizon, I see with blinding brightness what was for years clouded by frugality. And I am ashamed that I did not see the error of my ways sooner.
Or maybe it’s just the accumulation of birthday candles on my own cake that makes me realize that, feeling unsavory as I do about using a wishing candle twice, perhaps (please, Goddess, say it ain’t so!) it is a great and holy honor I have betrayed with this thing, this tin of candles, half lit and full of the birthday wishes of my children, my darlings, albeit unwittingly and in frugal prudence.
And now, the children are grown and the candle stubs all jumbled in their tin. Whatever will I do with these, and how best to release these precious hopes and wishes? It is a frugal witch’s dilemna.