Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Magic of Candles

I've never really been much of a candle person.  I love the ambience they create when other people use them in their homes but until recently didn't feel compelled to replicate that in my own home.  And then I become the parent of a toddler, and now I have a whole new appreciation for candles.

Shortly after Esme turned two, it became increasingly difficult to keep her at the table for supper.  It didn't help that we had also added a new baby to our household, of course, but I'm guessing we would have gotten to this point sooner or later anyway.  So in order to get Esme to sit through dinner, we started to try different things.

The first thing we tried was giving M&Ms.  To our two-year old, these are as good as gold.  She loves them.  So we gave her two for coming to the table and then promised her two more if she sat down and ate a good supper.  That works for about two days.  The next thing we tried was setting a timer and giving her the M&Ms if she sat at the table until the timer dinged.  That too worked for about two days.

Then I came across what might be the most brilliant idea of how to get a toddler to sit through dinner.  The idea is to light a candle at the beginning of dinner and then, if your toddler sits through the meal, she gets to blow the candle out at the end.  For Esme, getting to blow out the candle is a thrill.  For her parents, getting Esme to sit through a meal together is a thrill and an accomplishment.

To be clear, our house is not filled with candles, at least not ones we light regularly.  But the addition of this one, centrally placed candle has done wonders for our mealtime routine.  When we light the candle, we try to say something like, "The candle reminds us that Jesus is with us because Jesus is the light of the world."   Sure there are nights that the candle doesn't get lit, and others when we light it and don't mention anything about why, but more often then not the candle serves as a very simple (and short) way of focusing us all on our meal time together.

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