the best way to spread christmas cheer is sniffing candles that smell like beer
Four or five years ago, I walked into Bath & Body Works in search of Christmas candles. What I found was a line wrapped around the store and women holding cartons of three-wick candles on sale for $8. And that's how I learned about candle day. The next year, I forgot about this beloved sale but just so happened to walk in on candle day again.
And to think some people don't believe in God or miracles!
We haven't had as many funds available the last few years for seasonal candles, so I burned through my stash, vowing to buy more when I could. I stocked up on a few fall ones in September, but I've been waiting for candle day to buy some Christmas ones. That day was Saturday. As I walked through the parking lot to the store, I passed a woman wearing reindeer leggings and a dazed grin, carrying no less than 20 candles. She looked like she had been put under a spell with a potion of Vanilla Bean Noel and Hot Apple Toddy scented wax with a touch of glitter.
I was handed a shipping container upon entry to hold all my candles. I pushed and squeezed and shimmied my way through the store, looking for certain candles I desperately wanted to sniff. I inhaled so many fragrances that all the smells ran together, and I couldn't actually discern the scent of any of them. The store had to be breaking every health, fire, and safety code imaginable. Like moths to a flame (quite literally), the store was packed beyond capacity. It was, as the kids say, lit. It was like Times Square on New Years Eve, but instead of standing in the cold and snow, it felt like we were stuck in a sauna whilst dressed in winter gear and shoving scented wax up our noses. In both circumstances, Justin Bieber's Christmas music was still heard loud and clear over the crowd. There were people grabbing every candle they could find, stacking containers on top of containers full of candles the same way your average Midwesterner buys milk and bread before a snowstorm hits. There were also the candle aficionados handling the whole event like a wine tasting by taking a whiff of one candle, pondering the aroma and picking apart each individual nuance of the fragrance and comparing it with others, oblivious of the frenzy around them. Then there were the clueless, who stumbled in the store looking puzzled and confused, trying to figure out what all the fuss is about. So young, so naive.
I found all the candles I wanted and some I didn't know I needed and filled my container halfway with my treasures. I settled into the line, which was wrapped around the store twice, with Winter Candy Apple, Peppermint Marshmallow, Winter, Lavender Vanilla, and one free Gingerbread Latte body wash. I contemplated more of my favorite Fresh Balsam and Marshmallow Fireside, but I still had them at home. I was in line behind two grown men, both more excited than I was at the prospect of $8 candles. They compared candles between stories of bar hopping, and the one in front of me said "I got the Limoncello candle because I got hammered on that once." There is a special candle out there for every single one of us.
After that comment, he whipped around and asked me what I got. Before I had a chance to answer, he shoved a candle in my face and said "YOU HAVE TO SMELL THIS." Mahogany and Teakwood. It smelled the way I imagine the offices of the two great Rons (Swanson and Burgundy) would smell like. I sniffed every candle I saw on the long journey to the register that--wait for it--waxed on and on, and I moved as carefully as possible, trying to avoid the fate of another shopper who twirled around and knocked a display of candles on the floor, covering everything in shards of glass. I'm still shocked it wasn't me.
The whole experience was a bit of a sensory overload, and I kept asking myself if candles are important enough to withstand this sort of chaos. When I looked at my receipt and saw that I bought 4 candles for the price of one, the answer was a resounding yes.
My good Christmas luck must've run out at Bath & Body Works, because when James flipped through the stack of Christmas cards I had addressed that afternoon, he said "Do you realize you put the return address labels where the stamps go?" All the fragrances must've gone to my head. I went to light a candle later that night, and our candle lighter chose that moment to run out of juice, which is starting to become a pattern. It just burned me up.
Except not literally, because our candle lighter broke and we're out of matches.