As light fades and blinds are drawn, as books are read and prayers are said, the home cries out for candlelight. Those moments when we are reading bedtime stories and saying bedtime prayers and tucking children in tight might seem like the perfect time to light a candle and rest in the soft glow. But not in my house.
I have fallen asleep myself while putting little ones to sleep far too many times to risk leaving a candle burning when I am in any bed at the end of the day.
Still, I like the idea of ending the day the way we began it: in the soft light of a candle. Bathtime is a big deal in my house. It's another one of those things, like dinner time, that I always assumed other families did, but I was surprised to find it sort of exceptional. Nearly every night, the routine includes a bath for little ones--often bubbles, bath toys, a good scrubbing, hair washing, and time to play and pour. I'm in there the whole time; it's definite focused attention. And we light a candle as the routine begins.
The candle quiets things a bit and it slows the pace a the end of the day. I put the candle on the bathroom counter; the happy coincidence of this placement is that the counter stays clean. It just seems odd to me to bother to light a pretty candle in the middle of a counter littered with toothpaste tubes, lipgloss, and contact lens solution. For now, Trish is still supplying our soap and our candles, so our candle scent matches our soap scent. I love those scents so much and I am sure that one day when I am a very old lady, if I am fortunate enough to smell Trish's St. Anne or St. Therese scent, it will bring back the happiest memories of freshly bathed babies, nursing to sleep.
After the bath, little girls are bundled up into a towel, patted dry and gently laid on a warm towel on the bathroom rug for a good rubbing. Ever since Christian was a little boy in desperate need of quiet evening rituals, we have given our children evening massages. We rub them with lavender oil or Burt's Bees lotion or Burt's Bees oil and we sing a song we made up all those many years ago
i rub, rub, rub you
'cause i love, love, love you
yes i do
oh, i do,
i really do!
Silly, goofy, and not at all polished, it works for us. And if we even think about skipping it, Sarah reminds us, "Need my rub, rub." She sings along. I am all too aware that our days of bubbles and rubbing are nearly at end, as most of my children have graduated to utilitarian showers all by themselves. But this ritual is so well loved, so very much a part of the rhythm of our days, I like the chances of candles, lavender oil, and the "rub-rub song" surviving into the next generation.