y husband opposed lighting candles in our home after he lit himself on fire in the late '80s.
We were at a reception at the Oriental Hotel in Bangkok one evening, and he had a cast on his foot due to ligaments torn when he stepped on a tennis ball. He perched near a wall, unfortunately close to a candle sconce, and his suit jacket caught fire — not dramatic flames but a fast-moving singe that I quickly patted out. He removed his jacket, carried it over his arm, and nobody seemed to notice, but it greatly impacted his opinions on candles.
I continued to burn a candle on the coffee table in the evenings as I worked on my laptop, until I got careless and the heat melted an unsightly blob in the back of the computer cover. After this I agreed: no lit candles in the house.
Then this winter, living alone and following the dictum, "One should be good to oneself during the pandemic," I began to take care in creating a peaceful environment for my evenings, including candles.
On the coffee table are two candle holders perfect for tealights — one with a nighttime scene of a German village, the other Danish crystal, a gift from a friend. On my mantel I burn scented candles that come in glass jars, which I have splurged on recently.
Was I alone in this? I wondered. So I called Alexis Gass, owner of Clover Creek Gifts and Home Accents on Main Street to get her perspective on candles and their adherents through the 30 years since she opened the shop.
"People like to buy smaller candles for gifts, that are more than likely poured with decorative containers," Alexis said. "The candle companies are always coming up with different ways to package candles, which makes it fun to give them."
Candles are seasonal, she said. In the fall they are scented with pumpkin, cinnamon and apple, and in the winter, pine and fir are popular along with cranberry and bay leaf. In the summer she carries fewer and chooses those with a lighter scent.
"There are so many candle companies in the world, it's unbelievable," she noted. "I carry a lot of different lines, but three are very popular."
Apparently it's all about scent because Alexis said diffusers are picking up in popularity, with absorbable reeds that go in a bottle to soak up scented oil and gently disperse a pleasant aroma.
Flameless LED candles are popular for use in candle holders, she also said, giving off attractive light without the risk of fire, which worries many candle devotees.
"You don't have to worry about the flame if you go to bed and forget, or walk out the front door and forget," Alexis explained. "A lot of people who are older buy them because they tend to forget or relatives will buy them battery candles."
"A lot of LED candles have remote control so you can sit in your easy chair and click it on and click it off," she added.
They are also good for candle holders attached to the wall that are too high to reach easily, and some have timers. People also like flameless candles for use in lanterns that a real flame would make smokey.
A popular gift item now is kitchen towels, especially colorful ones with patterns and those with sayings, Alexis said, along with trinket dishes, lotions and one-size-fits-all cardigans and ponchos. But although candle sales decline after the holidays, they hold steady as a fallback item for a gift.
This information started me reflecting on what exactly I like about candles and whether it is my time in life to go flameless. I just bought a package of 100 six-hour tealights and several scented poured candles. They should last me through the winter and then I can reevaluate the risks.
Perhaps it's time to learn more about diffusers.