display | more...

Tonight's the first night of Hannukah and I'm not Jewish so what do I care? Well I'll tell ya because it's a story.

See, back in late December 2019, just before the plague began to creep through our land, there was this big Hannukah celebration in the square. Dancing and music and all that. It was fun. They were handing out free menorah kits.

So I took one. And I thought "well jeez if I took one of these things I might as well use it right?" So I took the thing home, opened the box, set up the candles -- the menorah was a cheap piece of sheet metal but it did its job. I put the menorah in the window of my bedroom, lit the candles, and recited the blessings.

And every night I would say the blessings, light the candles, turn off the lights, and lay in bed, watching the candles slowly burn down, until they were spent, and then I would fall asleep.

That year had been a terrible year for me. A friend had died, I was unemployed, I was ashamed of my life being idle, the world was dark and cold, and all grief was magnified by ADHD drugs that I probably shouldn't have been taking in the normal dosage, or at all. But in Hannukah I found a measure of stability, a whole week of it. Whatever else happened on a day, I knew how the day would end, and I knew I had to make it happen. You don't give up on Hannukah halfway through

The menorah was a bright little light that guided me through a dark time.

I repeated that little Hannukah the following year, in memory of that guiding light. I shall do it every year if I am able. Like I said, I'm not Jewish, I'm not going to pretend I am. Nor is this a full Hannukah -- it's a solitary affair where Judaism depends upon community. It's my business alone, and if I weren't supposed to put the menorah in a window facing the street I wouldn't. As a matter of fact, I worry that by telling you all this I sound like bragging about the whole thing. But -- I had to tell you in order to give you the context for something amusing I realized when I watched those candles.

Because when the candles had burned down to little stubs, they still kept going. There was always one or two that would be little more than a smidgen of wax and a scrap of wick clinging to the side of the holder, and yet they would burn with a tiny little flame, some nights nearly as long as the candles had taken to burn down. It was as if they weren't going to go out after all.

Call that a Hannukah miracle.