It’s Day 9 of Thanks,
and I am spending my writing time today, sharing my thanks for Chanukah, the Festival of Lights.
I never really got that as a kid. Yes, we lit the candles each night as a family. Each of us had a small, basic menorah and my parents had a nicer one to light for the family. We lit the candles, sang the prayers and then waited patiently, sometimes impatiently, for the gifts, be they small ones or big ones, each of the 8 nights. But I would bet that every Jewish kid suffered from Christmas tree envy. How could that sweet little menorah compete?
Of course there shouldn’t have been any competition. Christmas is a major Christian holiday and Chanukah is just a festival, but in the month of December it’s what we had and it often felt smothered by the center stage given to Christmas in stores, on TV, everywhere.
But when I spent a year in Israel and experienced a Chanukah, center stage, I got to see Chanukah in all its glory. For example, about a week before Chanukah arrived, jelly doughnut peddlers showed up on every street corner in every city and town in the country. Jelly doughnuts, what did they have to do with Chanukah? Well we learned the Chanukah songs as kids but never knew that soofganiot, meant jelly doughnuts. For 8 days we ate lots of jd’s and from then on, that tradition continued.
I am grateful for just the beauty of the lights and lighting my own menorah that I fell in love with a few years ago as I meandered through my favorite crafts shop in town. One candle on the first night with the Shamash, and each night, adding another.
Simple and beautiful. Some of the 8 nights with Tuvia, with his family, with my family and some nights just me on my own with the soft lights and my camera.
Now I can sit back and watch Christmas all around me, create fantasies around Christmas movie mythology and sing every song in my Christmas ipod playlist.