It’s an odd ritual. One of many, what some might call silly traditions, that have been part of our lives for as far back as I can recollect. And it’s a rare thing when one of us other than my wife remembers or volunteers for the task. We’re like the lazy farm animals that don’t want to help make the bread, we just want to wolf it down.
My diligent wife asks the question she already knows the answer to, “Did anybody light the candle?” These days life and time has whittled the family dinner number of participants down by two for a grand total of three of us. That leaves only our youngest and I to answer the loaded question. You’d think my wife would quit asking after all these years.
My little one and I look at each other with eyes at half mast – that’s how family members talk when it’s better not to talk… My daughter also asks me with her eyes if I might do the honors… I rarely do. I raise my eyebrows high in silence to let her know she’ll be doing the honors if her mom doesn’t beat her to the punch – make that candle.
Similar to the redundant question my wife asks, so do we, “Why do we have to light the candle every night?” We get the same traditional response, “It makes the food taste better.” My youngest and I again look at each other with eyes at half mast and straight faces in unanimous silent disagreement.
Neither one of us believes it actually makes the food taste better – her even more so when it turns out to be fish… The truth is, even despite my laziness and seeming apathy, I really do appreciate that my wife goes out of her way to make every dinner special. They are. I’ve figured out by now that it’s those seemingly insignificant actions that demonstrate love.
I also know that the day is coming when it will most likely be me that insists on lighting the candle that sits in the center of our table before we eat… even when it’s just my wife and I. I’m already forming the rapidly approaching vision of a future where three moms will be asking their families, “Did anybody light the candle?” Their little ones will squawk about the senselessness of it all as they slowly over time begin to understand the lasting value of traditions of a loving mom who sat in the chairs where they once sat… many dinners ago.
My little one struggled to light the big candle with the wick buried in the dried wax. I took the lighter, turned the cream colored candle at an angle and let the melting wax uncover the tired wick from so many nights before. I watched the light dance on the other side of the almost translucent wax for a moment before my wife sat down.
We moved on to our next tradition of prayer in thanks to the One who provides all things and gives us the minds to grasp the precious gifts we all tend to take for granted. You know, I didn’t use to, but I really believe the prayer of thanks makes the food taste even better… even when it’s fish…