Friday, December 19, 2014


For those in my tribe, tonight is the fourth night of Hanukkah.

I read a note today from a friend who sent me a card about her recently passed dad, and how he had orchestrated several beautiful hanukkahs.  Knowing her father even to a limited extent, I am sure he did and did so with love for his family.

My parents would also gather my brother and me around a menorah and sing the prayers each night.  I am far less likely to so conform. This year I am two for three, having lit the candles on the first and second night, but forgot last night. I think my box of hanukkah candles filled with one year's worth of wax has lasted three years now.

Last year Hanukkah, coincidentally, fell out on Thanksgiving weekend.  And I had travelled to Florida to be with my dad for Thanksgiving. So we got to light a candle or two together.  He was at that point not really able to enjoy my presence because of the absence of his lifelong companion, my mother.  Very little he had shared with her, when he had to do it without her, seemed to illuminate the darkness.

My friend wrote today that her dad was an amazing guy--and I had only met him a couple of times but from my perspective he was.  Like my father, he was a guy who tried as hard as he could to illuminate the darkness for his family--at hanukkah and at other times. In my dad's case, it was ironic and sad that Dad could not find a way to illuminate his own darkness and I was unable to help out.

All our days are illuminated, but sometimes we are too busy to see the light, or are consumed with sadnesses and healing bruises to see anything but darkness.  What we can do during hanukkah is think of it metaphorically.  It is a time to try to illuminate the darkness for our families and extended families and sweethearts and friends, and just about everyone.  The story of Hanukkah is about a rebellion against a ruling group that attempted to impose its mores on the Jews and extinguish what Jews considered to be their essence, their emmess/their truth. The holiday celebrates the emancipation from the suppression of light.  In that way, it is illuminating and should encourage us to attempt to brighten the days for everyone.

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