BLOOMINGTON – Two candles have been lighting up the Indiana Memorial Union every holiday season for nearly half a century. Two very large candles. One, attached to the IMU’s west tower, is about 60 feet tall. The other, attached to the Biddle Hotel tower on the east side of the student union building, is a staggering 90 feet tall. The candle on the west side is formed with 60 red lights attached to stainless-steel cables that hang from a bracket bolted to the roof. Above that bracket is a metal frame adorned with 32 white lights that create the candle’s flame. The candle on the east side is made up of 78 red lights and 33 white lights. Obviously, the candles don’t burn, but they do catch the eyes and attention of people who visit the IMU around this time of year. The candles have become one of the IMU’s most recognized traditions. He doesn’t know who started it or why, but for all of his 25 years at working at the union, facilities staff have brought the candles out of storage every November.
Christmas is joy. Christmas is perhaps the best season for crafting family traditions. About that tree: In the small town in Indiana where I grew up, there were a few things the population could count on from our family at Christmas: 1) We always had a big bayberry candle, and 2) We always had a real Christmas tree. One year, when all five of us kids were in high school, Mom decided she was tired of the labor involved with doing a real tree year after year, so she went out and bought a fake one. Well, needless to say, all our friends were HORRIFIED. This was a sure sign of the Apocalypse … apparently. One day, after a particularly impressive wind storm, my younger sister and her friends found a BIG limb that had come off the maple tree in our front yard. They took it in and put it in a pot next to the fake Christmas tree. Then they proceeded to decorate it, including lights … thus averting the impending Apocalypse. My mom thought it was so funny that she left it up for the entire season. The next year we had a real tree. We love a parade: The annual Goshen Plantation.