Tonight is the first night of Channukah. There’s something magical and spiritual in seeing the candles lit on a menorah.
There’s history about the the oil lasting for 8 nights instead of one, there’s the potato latkes with apple sauce or sour cream, and for little ones there are gifts for learning her lessons for the day. For me it’s about being with friends and family, standing in a little spot (usually near the kitchen), huddled about watching the leader or the child (if old enough) grasp the candle and say the prayers. The holiday just isn’t the holiday unless you are in that little circle watching the the little yellow flame. The same little flame that also provides heat and entertainment as it dances upon the wax.
Most might think that the wax falling down the side of the candle is sad. Yes, it might represent the tears of the temple destroyed. For little one and I, it might represent what we don’t have this year. But have you looked at what it leaves behind? Look at all the different colors of wax melted behind leaving the pretty colors and shapes. While little one and I may have tears, the tears collected together are of all the memories that we have and will create together that no one can take away.
This is much like the menorah that Twinkie and I submitted for the competition this year. Because we are something of a geeky family, we like to poke fun at ourselves. The first time we participated we made a menorah out of marshmallow rice krispies. It came out great but I didn’t know that there was such a thing as Kosher marshmallows. My embarrassing oops!
Last year as hubby had pretty much spent 10 months of that year in the hospital, we made a menorah/bottle of oil/dreidal 100% out of medical supplies (if you’ve been to my Facebook page, you’ve seen it.) Our dream menorah was to bring in a computer monitor and have it run a program lighting candles. But this year Twinkie and I decided to put a sweet touch on it. It was so much fun! But do you know how hard it is to find “blue” candy? Ugh! What was even worse was that of all the candy that had colors Twinkie can’t eat. Ahh but my favorite idea of hers was using licorice for candles. Yes, another light, that of a smile!
The second light (memory) is at our 21st wedding anniversary. Candles at our dinner table. Twinkie was one year old and hubby’s injury was one-and–ahalf. But as our 20th was bypassed due to Hurricane Ernesto and being nine months pregnant, we wanted to make up for it in grand style. We had a professional chef come in and make dinner for us. Oh it was wonderful. A friend had come by to keep the baby occupied. But for hubby and I there was no accident, hurricane, medical issues or even a reminder that the dinner was in our home. It was our own special time, to just be him and I sitting at a table by candlelight.
Sometimes after a few days of creativity and humor, you just get used to eating by candlelight. When Hurricane Wilma came to visit (pre-Hubby’s accident) we lost all utilities for a week. Or had we?! It was fun to watch his scientific mind at work. Off of a UPS battery supply, a couple of cables and a computer we were still able to watch tv. As we needed a phone he figured out that a non-battery operated phone plugged into the phone box on the outside of the house allowed us to still have access to phone and help many of our neighbors. He also figured out that it was easier for us to get out of the neighborhood and help others via our motorcycle. While a bit “challenging” we were able to bring food to the elderly, medicine to the sick and some just old-fashioned company.
Hubby was a good man like that. He was always trying to help someone out, get them something they needed or simply be there to provide a good laugh. I remember one year (about 20-plus years ago) when he and another friend were both working as consultants at a company. It was the end of day and they both needed to go home. There was snow. A lot of snow!
And there was an opportunity for a comedy skit – unplanned of course. My hubby couldn’t get out because his tires were too slick. Our friend saw what was going on and offered to help. So he helped my hubby get our car moved. In the process he (our friend) fell face first in the snow. The two of them frustrated at the snow, the cars, falling, broke into laughter. A light.
A fifth flicker of flame was when we did not open a single Channukah gift one year. It was tough. The “dot com boom” had just ended and the “dot com bust” came on with all the veracity it could. Hubby had just lost his sixth employ in two years and at the same time the mortgage company for our home had crossed our paperwork with two other families mortgages and was refusing to fix their mistakes. We were making double mortgage payments, paying all of our bills and had zero food except for our hurricane kit. That kit which we had pre-made years earlier was helping us to survive. Channukah was on top of us and people were giving us gifts. It was too much for hubby. “No gifts will be opened until I have another job. It’s not right. Other people can provide for us but I cannot provide for you! That is wrong!” Normally one might respond with, “it’s important to keep up our hope!” But on a very deep level, here was a man’s very deep and strong conviction to provide for me. I prayed very hard. We opened our gifts on New Year’s Eve at midnight. Sometimes you just have to wait for the right type of light to be around for things to happen.
One of my favorite candle flames in my heart is of one of his smile. He had such a big smile, especially when he was relaxed and his cheekbones turned up. My most recent memory of one of these special smiles was while he was in recovery after his second emergency surgery in five years for fluid in his spine. They brought me to the recovery room and he was awake. I asked him how he was doing. “Never mind that! Did you get a box from me?” Yes, but how are you? “Did you open the box?” Yes, I loved it! (It was a pretty silver chain with a black stone surrounded by other silver type stones. Very simple and delicate.) “Good I’m glad. I didn’t want you to worry while I was in surgery.” He then smiled and went to sleep.
There’s something about bonfires and being a single adult that always seems to bring about romance. Hubby and I were no different. This is where our dedication began to each other. I was swollen from a three-wisdom tooth surgery only 36 hours prior. I was also on strong pain medication. But I was not about to miss out on a hayride. Until the moment I’m about to speak of, I thought hubby was a “bump on a log.” This night was no different until I caught myself stopped from gabbing away while sitting on a picnic table on the table portion. This guy was sitting below me, just holding my hand. I woke up out of my medicated stupor and realized that he liked me. What a flicker of light!!
Usually when you get to the eighth candle for Channukah, you are at extremes because the menorah is now fully lit. At the same time you are sad because on the following night the lights won’t be there. But I am in a unique position. Because I am choosing to keep his (Hubby’s) light forever inside me. After all a menorah by itself is pretty but with lit candles is so much more. Memories inside me are one thing, but who he is and was to me will forever be with me, because he gave me so many gifts that couldn’t be bought in stores. It is those gifts who make me to be the kind of person I am today.
Think about all of those different bits of colored wax. What colors will they be next year? What lights will warm your heart?
That is what he taught me. How to have light in my soul!
~ Dance with me oh lover of my soul!
The Roaring Mouse