The nights get longer, snow is on the wing, and the days have been overwhelmingly pewter-colored in monotone clouds. Sometimes you just need a little more light, and this year, I’m craving any shard or streak of brightness. In the last week, I lost Jerry, an dear friend (see previous post for more on that), and my mother-in-law remains in a cardiac ICU as our extended family wraps around her, working and praying for a good outcome. Add to this the usual end-of-semester and pre-holidays-rushing-in pressures, and I’m not ready for prime time.
I seem to have gotten through the day of constant crying, followed by the day of crazy anger, all punctuated by intense bouts of forgetfulness or exhaustion. Lucky for me, I recognize from past losses that this is what grief looks like, lots of unpredictability bathed in a warm bath of sadness with big handfuls of crazy thrown in. I almost want to put a sign on me that says, “Approach with care, bearing tempura or cookies.”
Which brings me to Hanukkah, and not just because of the fried food and sweets. This is the holiday of ushering back in the light, a little at first, and then more as we add a candle each night. Usually this holiday is all I need to balance back my winter mojo, but this December, I’m taking no prisoners, so we dug out the Christmas ornaments (including Hanukkah ones), cut a tree from the field, dragged it in, topped it with a squirrel, and strung seven strands of lights around it. As a special memorial to Jerry, I also covered the tops of the cabinets with cedar and more lights.
Beyond these strung lights, there’s the big light we live in and around, and very soon, it flips, lengthening the days and truncating the nights. It’s all fire, one way or another, forging our spirits and lifting our days. My world is Hanukkah-ing itself, and all I need do is hang on, plug in lights and strike matches for the menorah. And remember that we’re all lighting our path in one way or another.
Bonus video: Peter, Paul and Mary singing the passionate Hanukkah song, “Don’t Let the Light Go Out.”