Tag Archives: Swedish Chimes


I used to be nearsighted. I wore glasses when I drove the car, watched movies, read street signs, needed to recognize friends from a distance, and find the dirt on the floor when I vacuumed. And then, about a year ago, the glasses just didn’t work anymore. The remedy turned out to be cataract surgery, and after I had it done this summer everything became clear and bright.

It’s wonderful to have sharp vision – except for one thing. I’ve lost that misty, romantic blur I had when I wasn’t wearing my glasses. Now I see every speck of dust on the furniture and all the wrinkles on my face – yikes! And because the Christmas lights I put up a few days ago look just like what they are – lights on a string – real candlelight has become very appealing to me.

When darkness gathers early on a December afternoon I love the twinkle of little lights or the glow of a candle. One of the best things about an Alaska winter is the way the lit-up outside tree looks after snow falls. It’s a glow that always cheers me.

"Christmas Snow," Carol Crump Bryner, 2009 Christmas card

“Christmas Snow,” Carol Crump Bryner, 2009 Christmas card

A long time ago, the farm Christmas tree was cut on December 24th and decorated with ornaments and little clip-on candles. I’m sure those lit candles were dangerous as all get-out, but what a sight they must have been for children on Christmas day. It had to be thrilling to watch the little points of flame teasing the dry needles. My mother never got over her fear of trees catching on fire, and only wanted to have the strings of electric lights lit if she was nearby. I think she was very brave to entrust me with the candle I hold in our 1948 Christmas card.

1948 Christmas Card

1948 Christmas Card

When my grandson Henry came to visit this weekend, we opened the box with the Christmas ornaments and decorations I had mailed here to Portland from Alaska. In it were the Swedish chimes my mother gave me more than forty years ago. We set it up, and I let him light the candles (something I found out later he isn’t allowed to do, which, of course, made it twice as fun for him). We turned off all the lights, cuddled together on the couch, and watched the little angels go round and round making music as the flames burned the red wax almost down to the bottom.

Henry and the candles, 2014

Henry and the candles, 2014

On Monday:  “Make-work”