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Old snowball candle melts my heart

Home-party snowball candle has been around for nearly three decades.

Nearly three decades ago I walked across the street to attend a candle party at my new neighbor’s house. Although I didn’t give a hoot about buying overpriced candles, I cared a great deal about a budding friendship with Mrs. Baker.

We had recently moved to the neighborhood from another part of the state and from the get-go, the sweet, gray-haired grandmother seemed to appear from central casting as the neighbor you dream of finding. She was that smiling face at the mailbox and a cheerful backup babysitter in a rare pinch for our little boy, Sam.

The truth is, I was delighted to be on her party-invite list. I knew I’d order something. It’s only proper home-party etiquette. And yes, we like candles at our house, as we burn through several a year.

Finally, I settled on buying a large snowball-shaped candle, peppermint scented. Unlike the small votives or the larger pillars, this was a decoration that even if I didn’t light it, would remain pretty throughout the winter.

Little did I know that it would still be around decades later. While I’ve burned it briefly a few times, I found its realistic snowball-like shape too appealing to consume by flame. I saved it, the way we do with those things we think are too nice for common use.

A couple weeks ago, I took the candle from its original box and considered how remarkable it is that we still have it. The decoration remains pristine white and retains its distinctive shape. Not only that, but the peppermint scent still permeates the air around it. What a well-made product from a candle company I no longer hear anything about, if it even exists. 

With plastic tubs bursting full of Christmas decor and storage space at a premium behind every cupboard door and attic floor, I’ve decided that this is the year I’ll burn the candle to the quick, toss out the box and have one less decoration to pack away.

The candle is going out with style. In its final Christmas, I’ve placed it on the entryway table and when company comes, I’ll light it without concern for saving it for another time.

We moved out of Mrs. Baker’s neighborhood two decades ago. She’s still there, though. I know this only because on the rare occasion when I drive down that street, I see that her little cement deer is still resting in her landscaping. We used to exchange Christmas cards but I never stop to visit. I feel a stab of regret at that realization, and hope that she is well, all the same.

Her kindness warmed me when I needed to ask an opinion about a local service provider or when I gratefully accepted a sack of vine-ripened tomatoes from her husband’s garden. The candle reminds me that at their best, sentimental possessions bring to mind the fine people we associate them with. I’m grateful for my former neighbor and reminded that we never know how far the glow of a little hospitality reaches. In this case, almost three decades.

Donna Cronk is Neighbors Editor of The Courier-Times and edits the quarterly her magazine for women.