Thanks to those other holidays that occur around Chanukah, for many families Chanukah is a time for being together. For some this is a joyous celebration. Others find this to be a painful time of year because they are alone, their family is gone and with everyone else so centered on their own family they do not want to be a burden. For many this is not a positive thing. It means heightened anxiety, putting up with Uncle ____’s behaviors that irritate, and heightened sensitivity. One thing about our families of origin is that for the most part, we don’t get to choose them. We’re stuck with them and they’re stuck with us.
What then, are the positive memories you have of Chanukah? Perhaps this can be the primary focus as we light those chanukiyot for the penultimate time. Let this be our intention when we take those few seconds to recall the faces of those we loved whose reflection will burn forever in the glow of the candles.
Here is one of my favorite memories.
When I was much younger, I received the Chanukah gift that keeps on giving. The gift itself wasn’t so extraordinary, it was the way that my Papa Joe delivered it to me. I was young. Very young since my Papa Joe died just after my eighth birthday. I was sitting in the den at our house on Maryland Drive and he and Mar-Mar were coming over for dinner. I was not able to appreciate how easy it was for all of my grandparents to come over for dinner on a weekly basis until it was far too late. I knew we were expecting company, and I assure you, this would not interfere with watching The Brady Bunch. Obviously my homework was done because I wasn’t allowed to watch tv until it was. The doorbell must have sounded and someone else answered it. I don’t so much remember that part. What I do remember is the sound of my Papa Joe whistling a little tune as he walked down the hallway. He was getting older and wasn’t as steady on his feet though I know this was before a cane became his constant companion. As he turned the corner, I saw out of the corner of my eye that he was rolling two pink and white hula hoops. One for me. One for my sister. The Brady Bunch no longer existed. It was a night for hula hooping! It was one of the most exciting nights of Chanukah ever, and one of the most vivid memories of my Papa Joe that I have. I can see his smile as he watched my sister and I hula hoop, and even Mar-Mar gave it a try. And because it is me, I must share that it was this night that led to my record of winning every hula hooping contest at many a b’nai Mitzvah celebration for years to come.
What is your favorite Chanukah memory?
This was a beautiful story. You should be a writer or an orator….Oh Wait! You are!
I have countless memories of holidays past. They too revolve around family but some cannot be told to protect the innocent.
Latke making with my mother for all the parties. No Cuisinarts in those days so a hand grater. If you did not skin your knuckle, it was not a good batch. I have now taken over the tradition and do this with my daughters. We made close to 350 this year.
My Grandmother gave up on wrapping paper and taped money on each box for everyone to put into the Tzedakah box. Less waste and more good.
Having to sit quietly on the floor, facing the Menorah while our gifts were placed behind us by our parents (3 SONS…. A REAL CHALLENGE)
My Brother getting a HUGE box of garbage and having to sift through it only to find his first ever pair of Hockey tickets in there. He took me to the game and I watched the scoreboard more than the game itself (a common practice these days).
Large family events where we had games, ate like crazy and saw the appearance of Hana-Claus each year in various iterations. Not unlike Time Magazine, my uncle would get into costume dressed in the popular person or event of the year. (Madonna-Claus, Magi-Claus, NAFTA-Claus, Gorbi-Claus etc. It was a riot)
The last Chanukah with my father who smiled and cried over all the excitement from his grandchildren, great nieces and nephews.
Most of all, the greatest memories, more than anything else, are the ones I have as a parent when I have made my kids smile. There is nothing more special than this.
Thank you for making me take time this morning to remember these things.