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?