I’ve had lots of opportunities to light matches this Christmas. Tea lights, and candles more widely, are lovely flickering points of interest which (just as equally) match our ways of seeing, doing and being at such a time.
Warm colours and senses.
Ever in movement.
Distracted by sudden draughts and currents of waylaying conversation.
Candles belong to this season – as do we, in our relaxed and unfocussed manners.
But there’s something rather more focussed I also always do – quite despite the season, the flickering points of interest and everything else that may excite, interest or dismay me.
So you light the first candle or the first tea light, and the match burns out before you can light a second. So you find a place for the burnt-out match, and light another in order that you may proceed.
You end up with perhaps three or four of these matches, burnt out; often still smouldering – though almost imperceptibly.
You have them in an abandoned tea-light cup for their own protection.
You take them, then, to dispose of in the rubbish.
And I, in my focussed, quite-despite-the-season way, find myself first going to the sink and running a careful tea-light cupful of water in and around the burnt-out matches.
Only then do I feel comfortable enough to throw them in the bin.
A bit OCD, I suppose you’re going to accuse me of being.
Maybe I am.
Who knows? It would explain a lot.
What I do know is it’s in the genes. Or maybe the folk memory.
I discovered, recently, on mentioning the fact to a family member, that a dearly departed relative used to do exactly the same, all her life.
She lived in another country, thousands of miles away. I never recall having seen her do this – though that doesn’t mean, either, I didn’t witness the act.
But if I didn’t, how do you explain it – if not by genetics?
How you explain it – if not through folk memory?
Or do you also douse matches before you dispose of them? Even during Christmastime …
Is it something people of my generation do quite unconsciously – even in today’s virtual disconnected-from-the-real-world-ness?