Sunday, December 25, 2011


Last night after Havdalah, we lit the Chanukah candles, opened gifts, and switched three kids into new pajamas. We had plans for an evening drive. "Get the kids in the car," I said to the lovely husband. "I'll come out as soon as the candles burn out."

Each of the five of us have our own Chanukah menorah, and this year E made one in school, too.

So we've been lighting six menorahs each night, and last night was the fifth night of Chanukah. That meant we lit 36 candles last night.

They're not large candles, but I didn't want to leave the house with so many flames burning.

The house emptied of people and sound and I was alone in the dim, caretaking for those tiny wicks. I watched them, feeling tender toward those sweet lights over which my kids have meticulously learned to sing the blessings, transfer flame, watch in wonder.

The Chanukah lights are tenacious. We've lit them for thousands of years against the time we were unable to light a flame. These fulfilled their legacy admirably. They were reluctant to extinguish.

Our plans were for something we do every year. We hit a drive-thru for a very rare and special treat of french fries and vanilla milkshakes, and we drive through a huge Christmas lights display.

But our lights wouldn't give up, so I stayed. Waited.

One of my favorite concepts in Judaism is hiddur mitzvah, that when we do something ritual or religious, we do it beautifully. Judaism places a lot of emphasis on this and I don't see it as much in Christianity, but when it comes to Christmas...good job, my friends.

We love your Christmas lights, and so every year my sweet Jewish family spends a night oohing and ahhing at your resplendent Christmas displays.

Merry Christmas, by the way. I know you're not here just now. I'm writing for myself, this morning, but sometimes one has to do that, even on a public blog.

So I waited for the tiny little flames, feeling more and more responsible for their final breaths of air. My worldview lives solidly on the side of ooh, pretty! in the art/logic brain divide, but I remember just enough of science to think about how the candles were disappearing before my eyes, turning energy into heat, burning wax, leaving nothing behind but a few drips and an afterimage in my eyes.

And when there was nothing left, we enjoyed a night of spectacle and french fries.

I love tiny lights.

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