A few weeks ago we celebrated Joe’s milestone birthday with an outdoor party. I really enjoy using my nice linens and vintage pitchers and containers for vases and candles. I think it makes the party more personal when you celebrate it with things that are special to you. The problem came when I went in search of candles for the centerpieces. I love me some fire on the table and usually have a formidable stash of candles but alas, I had apparently (and literally) burned through my supply. No probs, I thought, I’ll just pick up some more.
Do you have any idea how hard it is to find unscented candles? I’m talking about pillar candles here, not a wimpy tea light or formal tapers (I always have those) – I wanted a nice, sturdy candle that would burn for hours. (Hey, my friends are 1) thirsty and 2) big talkers.) We have long, luxurious “dinner in Italy” style meals. It’s the BEST. Anyway, I burned a lot of time and gasoline in my quest and came up with butkus. I was more than annoyed – I was ticked off. Really folks, do you want to smell “woodsy pine” or “cinnamon apple” when you are eating dinner? No. Why is everything SCENTED? Why do people buy home deodorizers that run continuously and make their houses smell like a powder room? Why not save the money and spend a little time finding the source of what is making your house smell so bad that you need to install a 24/7 deodorizer? Jimmy Hoffa’s body has to be somewhere, right?
Admittedly, my pale Irish skin is oversensitive to scented lotions and products. So is my pale Irish nose. I am on a quest to locate a lifetime supply of Dove unscented deodorant. I loved it and can no longer find it among the 24 varieties they now offer. Really, Dove? I used to love your unscented body wash and you had to mess with that, too. You used to be the industry standard for not-crapping-up-products-with-cloying-fragrance. If I try a new a shampoo or hairspray and I love the results it still goes right into the trash if the scent is cloying and overpowering. I smell it ALL DAY LONG.
Back to the candles. I solved my dilemma at the grocery store. No, they did not carry unscented candles. They did carry Yahrzeit candles and I could not believe I didn’t think of it sooner. ( I spent 4 years as a nanny for a Jewish family where I learned about the tradition of burning that candle on the anniversary of the death of a loved one. Always loved the idea.) I bought six of them and took them home to put in the arrangements.
The finished product was lovely – I grouped them on the smaller table the next morning and we had a lovely, private brunch. (We were house sitting.) Of course we honored the intent of the Yahrzeit candle. We lit six candles – three for Joe’s mother, father, and his only brother who have gone before us. We lit two for my parents, also gone before us. We lit the final one for the pregnancy we had that didn’t make it all the way to the finish line. While we wanted all of those souls to be present it was simply not possible. We took comfort in the fact that we were able to remember them with such deep love and light – and so privately, just between the two of us.
It was a wonderful evening and the candles burned blissfully unscented long into the night. We shared memories, gave speeches, talked about the people we love and gave thanks for the people in our lives, living or not-so-living. Joe had me in tears when he talked about the “luckiest day in his life, July 4, 1987.” (The day we met.) How wonderful is that? I love happy endings.