Running Granny Green encourages women, especially grandmothers, to gain greater fitness by providing tips and inspiration to insure long years of joyful grandparenting.

The cookie recipes are a bonus!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Keep a Candle Burning

This Christmas Eve I am sharing a story many of you may have read before.  It was included in my first book, Gold Pans and Iron Skillets.  This is a true story from Christmas in 1983. 

Enjoy and Merry Christmas!

Keep a Candle Burning


Candles have been used in the modern era mostly for ambiance. I don’t recall mood candles during my youth. Mostly, candles were used during power outages, a common occurrence in Southeast Idaho—the wind, you see. It seems it was after I moved away that Esther developed an affinity for candles. (If she had in fact used them previously, I in my self-absorbed teenage existence had not noticed.) Whenever I returned home for a visit, there would be a candle burning, often in my room.

A candle has many uses other than lighting. They are also valuable for mood setting, covering odors of deep fried foods or camouflaging mouse infestations, and message sending.

Message sending. This is not in reference to smoke signals, although a candle may suffice in a pinch. The messages sent by lighted candles are simple unspoken words of love. For me, a candle communicates, “Welcome Home.” Never was Esther’s lighted candle so appreciated as it was Christmastime 1983.

Bonnie, the Baby, and I were traveling home from Southwest Idaho to Southeast Idaho for Christmas. Young, single, and not very wise nor well-prepared, we were anxious to hurry home for the holidays and left Boise at 5:00 pm in a light snowstorm on December 23. The trouble with light snowstorms in Southwest Idaho is not only Southwestern Idahoans’ lack of winter driving experience, but also the fact that the storm’s counterpart in Southeast Idaho is most likely a blizzard.

The light snowstorm increased in severity as we traveled eastward. Halfway between our point of departure and our destination, at about 7:30 pm, the storm became so vigorous that the gas line in Bonnie’s Mustang began to freeze up. When this phenomenon occurs, the engine behaves as if the fuel tank is empty and the vehicle comes to a stop. Being quite familiar with the behavior of empty gas tanks, I proceeded to berate her for neglecting to fuel the car. She assured me this was not the case and we began to strategize. Hazards on. Wait patiently for help. Surely someone would come to the rescue. One problem. Folks don’t like to stop on freeways in blizzards at night. Second problem. Folks have difficulty seeing in blizzards. Third problem. Hazard lights don’t last long in blizzards.

The whiteout was severe enough that we could not determine our exact location. Not that it would do any good as this was in the days before cell phones. We waited. Our only hope was to attract attention and communicate the need for help. We began taking turns standing behind the car and waving the only signal item we had, a white grocery bag! We prayed. As the hazard lights were beginning to dim, we prayed some more and gave up on the white flag waving.

We were becoming most discouraged when not one, but two vehicles transporting Good Samaritans stopped to lend a hand. We were offered a ride to town, where we enlisted the help of a garage and tow truck. Bonnie then returned to the scene, accompanying the tow truck driver in an attempt to locate our abandoned vehicle. Several hours later the gas line was thawed and we continued our trek across state. As we reentered the freeway, we discovered that the blizzard was continuing to rage. The white out persisted, but we miraculously arrived home about 2:30 am December 24. As we pulled into the drive, I caught sight of a candle still burning in the window. What a relief! Its flickering glow seemed to communicate, “I’m waiting.”

Esther’s version of the story is quite different as she was the lighter of the candle. She has spoken of the relief experienced when she observed the glow of the Mustang’s headlights coming up the road. She saw the lights and knew we were safe.

Now I don’t know if those burning candles were used to set a mood, cover up the odor of a seldom used basement, or send a message, but they were a comfort to me. My own children are maturing and have occasion to be away from home. I have taken up the torch, as it were. A lighted candle now burns while I await their safe return. Mood setting? Maybe. Mostly, I burn the candle in remembrance of the relief it granted me, as a connection to my own mother concerned for the safe travel of her offspring, and to foster a tradition that I am certain my children will not fully understand until they have youngsters of their own venturing forth into the world. Maybe they too, will say a prayer and light a candle to beckon, “Welcome Home.”

I wish you all a safe and Happy Christmas!


Running Granny Green encourages women, especially grandmothers, to gain greater fitness by providing tips and inspiration to insure long years of joyful grand-parenting. The cookie recipes are a bonus!

Happy Running!
- Carol aka Running Granny Green
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