In one of those strange quirks that happen between the Jewish calendar and the Roman calendar, Hanukkah (for the remainder of this post, I will use this spelling…you may then choose to use one of the other 4,946 other spellings thereafter) starts on Christmas Eve, which means it doesn’t end until 2017. Odd.
While there is substantial confusion over the place of Hanukkah in the pantheon of Jewish holidays, it is given a far greater significance by non-Jews than it merits. Nevertheless, its proximity to Christmas and associated gift-giving tends to make it important in the modern world.
My grandparents, on both sides, were fairly religious. Not orthodox, but faithful. Both my parents were less so, though they did agree I should go to Hebrew school and have a bar mitzvah.
As I grew older, my practicing of the religious part of the Jewish faith faded, though I still kept some of the traditional observances (eschewing of leavened grain during Passover, fasting on Yom Kippur, lighting of the menorah on Hanukkah, etc.).
Prior to my 13th birthday, my maternal Grandpa went to Israel for a trip and brought me back a yamaka and tallit to wear at my bar mitzvah, as well as my own menorah for that day (some 10 years later) when I would live on my own.
That Grandpa died in his late 60’s, so he never got to see me use the menorah (Mom also died in her 60’s, which certainly doesn’t engender enthusiasm as I near them myself – on the other hand, Dad is 87 and his dad lived until 91, so who knows…but I digress).
I have the yamaka and tallit still, in the handsome pouch that they came in. I also still have the menorah and we are finally to the point of today’s post.
I have used this menorah every year since I’ve lived on my own, now up to 30+ years. It is both functional and sentimental.
It is not, however, good at holding candles.
Each year, I battle with the menorah to keep the candles standing long enough to be lit. Once the wax begins to drip down into the cups, the candles usually stay still.
Occasionally, I am forced to melt a little bit of the bottom of the candle in order for it to stand. Though I cringe while doing this, I have not yet been smited, so I guess the guy upstairs isn’t too offended.
It’s crazy frustrating to watch one candle flop over, while others stand tall. I’m fortunate that they tend to fall forwards or backwards and not domino-like across each other. I’m also thankful that I’ve not had them fall into each other while lit (and perhaps start a conflagration).
I won’t deny that there have been times I’ve been tempted to get a new menorah, but there are two clear and compelling reasons to keep up with my old companion.
First, it is simple and unpretentious, a description that aptly fits my family. Second, it was from my Grandpa. He bought it especially for me. Case closed.
When I was searching for a picture for this blog, I came across the exact same one right down to the tin foil “protection” underneath!
I don’t know if every menorah owner uses this method, but I was stunned to find this exact combination. It was linked to this funny article on Hanukkah that I make available to you because it’s enjoyable and almost everything could be true for boys as well.
This year, I went into the cups with a pen knife and cleared out decades of leftover wick and wax. I thought this would solve my upright problems, but a quick test shows I still have some wobble there.
Ah well. This may be a symbol of great tradition and sentiment, but is sure can’t hold a candle!