As some of you already know, I put candles on my Christmas tree and light them on fire. Not because I'm crazy, or because I have a death wish, but because it's a family tradition that goes back at least 6 generations and it is beautiful. It really isn't dangerous if you know what to do (fresh tree, proper candle placement, proper lighting rules, etc.). Years of observing my father do it taught me where to place the candles and how to properly light and extinguish them. Now that he's no longer alive, it's a really nice way to feel closer to him during the holidays.

This year's tree was a challenge to candle, because it was a fuller and a bit floppier tree than in past years, so finding branches that were sturdy enough and far enough from other branches was harder. But I persevered. Not all the decorations are up in these pictures, because our kids had to go to bed so we just lit the tree for them to see and then we'll finish decorating later on tonight.

So without further ado, here is this year's tree, from the front (notice the silver chain, made 40 years ago by my mom, using tin foil; also, the gold-painted nuts are from my dad's tree when he was a kid, made by his father):

CHRISTMAS TREE: THE CANDELING

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And from the side:

CHRISTMAS TREE: THE CANDELING

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Nowadays we have lights on the tree as well, but I think I said to a couple of people that when I was a kid, we didn't have lights, just the candles. It was cool because the only time the tree was lit was when the candles were on, so you really paid a lot of attention to the candles and it was very meditative. We were usually silent while the candles were burning, all staring at the tree while the Christmas music played. I do remember one year when my sister and I got stuffed animals and my mom had to warn us that we were dancing with them too close to the lit tree, but that's pretty much the only memory I have of my mom being actively worried that we'd burn the house down (from the tree, anyway).