Lighting a candle for Louie

Today before we left my grandfather’s house in Clarksburg, we were looking around in the garage and the barn to see what was in there. Over 60 years of life have been fully lived in that house and the trappings of those lives fill all the corners, nooks and crannies.

We climbed up into the attic over the barn to see if the old cradles my grandfather had made were still there. My kids were fascinated with climbing into the old, dark, dusty space. We found the cradles, my sister’s old bunk bed, part of a dollhouse, the front glass of some old pinball and bowling games and my mother’s old sulky (horse buggy.) For my little Tink, though, the find of the day was a large, plastic, light-up candle with Noel written across it. It is almost as tall as she is and she claimed it the minute she saw it. She wrapped her arms around it and single handedly dragged it out of the barn and all the way across the yard to the house. “Look what I found!” she announced to everyone standing there. “I need a Christmas decoration for my room.”

It is a horribly tacky, faded, dirty, really old yard decoration. I actually remember it being in my Grandma’s yard for many Christmas’. It was exactly the sort of thing Grandma Molly always loved. She had the candle. She had the moving Santa and Mrs. Claus dolls she put in the bay window. Sometimes Grandpa would climb up on the peaked roof of the house and put Santa in his sled up there. The candle even has a bit of Louie’s touch. It’s plastic bottom is attached to a large square piece of wood, presumably to make it more stable. The cord was tucked neatly inside, just like Louie did everything – carefully and neatly.

There was no way I could tell Tink she couldn’t have the candle. Not after she had dragged it so far with such determination. Resigned to having it as the new addition to my Christmas light display, I put it in the back of the van for the drive back to home.
The first thing Tink did when we finally arrived back at our house this evening after over 4 hours of driving was grab the candle and wrestle it out of the car. She left behind her new Barbies — Island Princess and Elina the Fairy — in favor of getting the candle in the house as quickly as possible. Suddenly I realized I would not have to put the candle in our outdoor display. Tink was dragging it up to her room. She had found a new nightlight!

Here she is tonight, asleep by the light of her candle. For most of the past year, she has slept with all the lights on in her room. Not tonight. Tonight she insisted all the lights be off and only her candle be lit.

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She told her Grandma at the church yesterday that she wanted to light a candle for Louie-Louie. In all the commotion of the service, we never lit the candle at church. She certainly lit one tonight though and I think it is perhaps more fitting. Despite my great sadness, I feel peaceful watching her sleep in the glow of her great-grandparent’s Christmas candle. It is like they are watching over her and maybe me, too.