Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Hannukah: The Festival of Lights

Friday night December 11, 2009 was the beginning of the eight nights of Hannukah: the Festival of Lights. The modern era, especially in the US, has made this a holiday that competes or compares to Christmas. And it just isn't so. Christmas is a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Hannukah commemorates an ancient battle and the miracle of the oil which provided light that burns eternally in all Jewish places of worship. The story is that there was only enough oil left for one night and the miracle is that it lasted for eight nights, until more could be procured. It is celebrated not traditionally with gifts but with gold coins ( gelt ) to play the dreidel game and with foods prepared in oil, to remind us of the miracle. The eight nights are indeed significant, but I think the presents are to help little Jewish kids feel not so left out of the Christmas hoopla.

So, many years ago, when expecting the birth of another grandchild ( I have eight!! a miracle ) one of my children asked if this new grandchild might ever be loved as much as or more ( horrors! )than the ones preceeding. Well, most parents and grandparents will say that they love all their children alike. Really not true. We love them all for the unique beings that they are and the quantity has little to do with that. Loving doesn't diminish with use. In fact, I like to remember the hanukkiah ( the menorah the we light on Hannukah ) as the best example of how the light ( with the love ) only increases with each candle we light. The first night there is one candle and the candle that we light all the others with. So there are really two. I think of myself as the candle that lights all the others and with each consecutive night there is another candle and hence, another light. More candles make more light. And it is just like that as we add to our families and friends numbers: more to love, more love to give. More and more lights. More and more love.

Each candle I light these eight nights, with the candle that represents me, is another a light to shine it's brightness on this family and hopefully this world. Each unique individual adding to the brightness that is hope for the futeure and a source of love, that only increases with each flame, growing brighter to remind us of the the miracle of it all.

Happy Hanukkah. Merry Christmas. Let each holiday, like each shining, loving unique kid be an inspiration for goodness and hope. Each different and all very loveable. The more candles, the bigger the light, the greater the love.