Monday, February 04, 2013

make do (and make lovely) Monday-the Candlemas recap

Saturday evening we invited a small group of friends, ones we have known since college and our early married years, over to celebrate Candlemas with us. We had contemplated throwing a barn buster of a gathering, but lately I am craving smaller, more intimate gatherings. Big parties, the kind that stretch the capacity of our house and yard beyond it's intended limits, are fun to host once or twice a year. But even though I truly enjoy their general happy chaos, their loud, swirling dervish madness of laughter, food and the constant flow of guest from room to room, I never feel as if I am able to really visit with anyone well.
It seemed appropriate then, in keeping with my winter hibernating tendencies, to invite a smaller group over for our little celebration. A group of friends that we have grown-up with - from our late teens, through early marriage and adulthood, to where we are now- hovering around the 40 mark. The kind of friends for whom you don't really have to clean your house for.

My first order of business in getting ready was pulling out every non-Christmas smelling candle I could find, and placing them all around the house and back patio.

While I worked indoors, Sweet Man and the boys built a fire in the backyard. They stocked it with all  the fallen branches from the Christmas snowstorm. It seemed both lovely and fitting that we would build a fire for Candlemas (the day we remember Christ presentation at the temple as an infant) from wood that fell in the hours between Christmas and St. Stephen's Feast Day.

I made the crepe cake while all the guest arrived (It was absolutely scrumptious..recipe to follow sometime this week, pinky promise.) 
If you going to make crepes I find it is best to do it while you have lots of company to keep you entertained while you pour and flip batter 24 times over.

Once it was dark we lit all the candles inside and out. These are some of the beeswax candles  we made for the Candlemas chapter in A Homemade Year.  That chapter was one of the very first ones I wrote but one of the very last ones we photographed. I never got around to getting new beeswax candle making supplies for this year,  so I was extra glad to find these stuffed in my candle cabinet. 

We ate in waves as families arrived one at a time, each with their own contribution to our meal . Kim said you could tell it was a Southern gathering because it was all Main Courses, Dips and Spirited Beverages. The only vegetables present were drenched in mayonnaise and vinegar.

 On the recommendation of a friend, and in trying to represent the Mexican tradition of Dia de la Candaleria, I bought freshly made tamales from a small, local Mexican food store.
I cannot rave enough about them. They were huge and delicious and inexpensive. I may have found our new go-to dish for potlucks. If you live locally you must go eat and shop at the Guadalajara market in Levy.

Eventually we made our way out to the fire for a moment of storytelling, reflection and prayer.
I read the Collect for Candlemas from an old Common Book of Prayer and we passed the light from candle to candle.

We told the kids the story of Jesus' "baby dedication" at the temple and of Simeon's and Anna's words to Mary and Joseph. Looking around the circle I realized that almost every person there had been present at one or both of our boys dedications.  What sweetness it is to be able to go through life with friends who can help carry your memories.

We talked a little bit about how we all can use a blessing now and then, especially over new things in our lives - babies, marriages, jobs, projects, homes, friendships. 

And about how Jesus was the born to be a "God revealing light."
(It occurs to me now, looking back over the evening, how bright yet how quiet a single flame is. No words or sounds are needed in order for it to shine, illuminate and guide.
I wonder if our lives were a little bit brighter, and a little more quiet what sort of difference might it make in revealing love, mercy, hope and joy to those around us?)

We may or may not finished our little observance by singing a motley verse of This Little Light of Mine. Then it was time for Crepe Cake, more tamales, more stories, more laughter and more memories- both new and old-until we were too full, too happy and too tired to celebrate any more.

There are two ways of spreading light:
 to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.

(big thanks to Jeanetta, Phoebe and Kim for Instagraming so much of the evening for me!)


  1. What a beautiful celebration! Friends you don't have to clean for are the best kind of friends!

  2. Thank you for sharing this with us. Lovely.

  3. The tamales at the Guadelajara Market are good, aren't they? I recently joined AR Women Bloggers, where I discovered your blog. I'm glad I found you and Jeanetta at Splendid Thing. I think I may actually know your father in a roundabout way. If so, I feel really old.

    Since you shop at Guadalejara, are you in the NLR area?


ok, really. tell me the truth... do these comments make me look fat?

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