Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Lights in the darkness

Tonight is the first night of Hanukkah. When I was a child, my family didn't really observe any of the Jewish holidays. As an adult I am finding they have growing importance and meaning, but because I am coming to this now, I am creating my own meaning in addition to the traditional ones.

I know, Hanukkah in America has been overblown so Jewish kids have something to feel good about while all the Christian kids have Christmas. But it is more than that. Like so many Jewish holidays, it chronicles a story of survival and the celebration is about making it through adversity with some miracles thrown in for good measure. They tried to kill us, we survived, let's eat! We've been telling that story for a long time. All humans can tell that story, regardless of ethnicity or religion.

I also believe it's no mistake that this holiday, the festival of lights, happens now, in the darkest days of the year. We light candles to give thanks for past miracles and for this moment in our lives. It's a reminder of the gifts of our lives, even in the dark, in this moment.

These messages - of survival, of hope, of determination, of memory - are captured in the photograph that heads this entry. It speaks for itself.

For the next eight nights I will light candles and tell stories of surviving adversity, whether it's about having enough oil to re-sanctify the temple, beating illness, saying goodbye, or just making it through another day. I'll make latkes. I'll consider the darkness and power of one small light in the night.

(c) 2007 Laura S. Packer Creative Commons License

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True Stories, Honest Lies by Laura S. Packer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
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