I’ve accumulated a fine assortment of candles – fragrant waxes poured into decorative containers. And honeycomb votives for the proper holders.

Typically hostess gifts I stow away during the long, glorious days of gardening season, I neglect to resurrect them to cheer the tedious, winter months.

There’s no explaining this forgetfulness other than my life span. For I’m fond of the soft glow of a burning wick. Ask my tea and dinner guests. They’ll avow my admiration for the warmth of heart two lit, slender tapers offer a table.

I first observed this loveliness when my mother crowned her Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day feasts with golden flames from her two candlesticks.

Mom used what she had with flair and flourish, a virtue she passed on to her five daughters. In a rush of recall while decorating this past Christmas, I gathered my stash of scented waxes.

First, I placed on my desk an intentionally dented tin filled with hydrogenated soybean oil. I failed to remember the face and name of the giver and scolded myself for my mistake. Next time a friend carries a gift into my house, I’ll note their name on my handy paper calendar.

My goodness! That small, soy lamp kept me company the month of January. At nightfall, candlelight burned in every room within this house, dispelling wintertime’s darkness.

I recalled a woman long ago in a Bible Study Fellowship group. One particular meeting the lesson led to our challenge as mothers to make mealtime fun and interesting for our children. “At dinnertime, my teenagers take turns lighting the candles on our dining room table,” she said.

“Sometimes,” she added, “the kids argue about whose turn it is. I point to the kitchen wall where I hang my calendar. I’ve written the initial of the candle-lighter on each day of the month.”

Well, back then I also kept my calendar on the kitchen wall. And my two Desert Rose taper holders I used for holiday dinners would serve just fine for family supper. So, why not give the woman’s creative idea a shot?

Because my two younger daughters were a few years shy of match-handling accountability. And I didn’t foresee them gladly submitting all the fun to their older sister.

More meaningful, my girls observed candlelight illuminate my mother’s face surrounded by her offspring in another generation of holiday tables.

Now, nearing the end of these long, dark nights, I’m guessing my gift-givers know what long-term empty nesters need. You see, the majority of my guests boast grandchildren and great-grandchildren – “the light of my life,” they say.

Dear Reader, I may be wrong, but I think my children and friends buy me candles to light up my life. For they know my one, teenaged grandchild lives in California.

As I sang in Sunday school when a child, I’m singing, “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine. Hide under a bushel? No!

I’m going to let it shine!

Let it shine!

Let it shine!”

Contact Iris at irisfarmletters@gmail.com.