Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Why we buy things

Last night it snowed - a big wet fluffy snow that filled the sky with white. All the previous snow has melted and the weather is a little mild, so this new snow felt like a pre-Christmas edition.

And here is the memory it brought me:

One December when I was very young, maybe 7, my mum put me on a train to the city to visit my biggest sister, then a university student. And that sister took me shopping. At night. In my town night shopping was restricted to the budget department store on Main Street, so this was a big deal. It was snowing out - a big wet fluffy snow that filled the sky with white, and blanketed the ground with just enough white to catch the toes of my boots.

My sister suggested we go into a mysterious little shop a few steps and a wrought iron railing down from the sidewalk. Inside, the light was warm and friendly, and an enormous number and variety of beautiful candles were displayed for sale. I looked and looked, amazed and happy, and then I was drawn to a little white china box with a red china bow tied around it.

I lifted the lid and - oh, the scent of the little red candle inside! Fruity and sweet - everything a 7 year old girl would want. I bought it for my still-at-home sister's Christmas present.

For me, as I now realize, the candle encapsulated everything about the moments leading up to its purchase - the excitement of being in the city, the treat of being with a sister I missed terribly, the luxury of all those candles, the illusion of being all grown up. I bought it to capture for our other sister the gift of all of those wonderful things.

Of course, what my sister actually got was a candle in a highly breakable and dust-catching kinda seasonal-specific box. A candle she wasn't allowed to burn in her room for her own self anyway, being too young for that sort of thing. She left it behind when she moved out for her own university career, and when I came across it in her room afterward I found the scent had gone too.

Still reminded me of that wonderful night though. Even the image of the box in my mind does that. And so, it seems, does a peaceful night's snow.

1 comment:

Angela said...

Mary, that is such a sweet story.