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A lit menorah from a Chanukkah to remember.

A Chanukkah to Remember 

It is Thursday evening, December 22, 2022. The fifth night of Chanukkah. 

A few days earlier, our son had suggested that we sponsor a Chanukkah family get-together in our condo. My husband’s physical condition does not permit us to join our family at another location.

“You will not have to do anything,” he promised. “We will take care of everything. You do not need to worry; we will do it all,” he insisted.

Now, after lighting our Chanukkah candles, my husband and I sit and wait. I had not done any preparations for this event. I trusted my son and daughter-in-law would really “take care of everything.”

Around 6:30, one of our grandsons arrives with his wife and three children. We are happy to see them, but they do not seem to be aware that there is a need to set up for this great family reunion. 

Soon afterwards however, our son, daughter-in-law, youngest granddaughter, and two of our grandsons arrive with their families. They bring everything: an extra table, chairs, tablecloths, paper goods. They go to work. 

Within a few minutes, our condo is transformed into a festive party place. Everything is ready except for the food. It still has not been delivered as promised. So, our son goes to pick it up. 

While we wait, seven of our eight great-grandchildren between the ages of 2 and 10 settle themselves in a circle on the floor of the living room. The eighth, two months old, sleeps peacefully on his mother’s lap. 

We had previously organized a shopping bag full of various little Chanukkah toys to be used as a grab-bag activity. Starting with the youngest, one by one, each child takes a turn to pull one item out — no peaking allowed. 

All behave marvelously, no crying, no arguing, no complaining. (Later I am informed that they had all been read the riot act as to how to behave. It actually worked!) When all are finished getting their presents, we are presented with a most beautiful performance. All of the children sing a variety of Chanukkah songs. It is a moment to cherish for years to come. A week later I can still see and hear them in my mind’s eye.

After eating, playing, schmoozing, all are ready to go home – but not our son and his crew. They get back to work. When they are finished, you would never know that there had been a party with eleven adults and eight children in our small condo. Everything is put back where it belongs, the floor is swept, the kitchen cleaned, the left-over food and all trash taken out.

It was such a beautiful and meaningful Chanukkah evening that we will never forget… and our son kept his word. I did not need to worry or do anything. Everything was planned and executed as promised.

However, this fifth day of Chanukkah holds more surprises, though not that enjoyable. 

It is Friday afternoon and as usual, I cook and prepare for Shabbos. Candle lighting is at 4:24 and we need to light the menorah before then. It is 3 o’clock, and I just need to finish a few minor last-minute items.

Then… the lights go off!

There is no power in the whole area. We wait a while hoping that it will come back on, but nothing happens. We need to act. We get out the flashlights just to realize that most batteries are corroded. They are useless. I take every single yahrzeit candle we have, light them and call our son for support. 

His house is not affected. He brings two lanterns, and we contemplate what to do. One option is to go to his house. But as soon as his offer comes up, we realize that there is really nothing we can do. We live on the eighth floor. The elevators are out of commission, which means, my husband, who is wheelchair bound cannot get out. We have no choice. We have to stick it out.

We light, the Menorah, I bench licht (light Shabbos candles). Luckily my Chanukkah dinner roast is still warm, so my husband makes Kiddush by candlelight, and we have our shriveled Shabbos dinner. 

Outside, the wind is howling, the outdoor temperature is supposed to go down to 25 degrees. Of course, we have no heat. Right now, due to all the lit candles our living/dining room is comfortable, but how will we keep warm overnight?

At 5:30, about half an hour later, there is light! My electric blech (hot plate) is on as is our hot water kettle. We breathe a great sigh of relief. We will be okay. Everything is going to be fine. We will have a “good Shabbos,” and a happy last two days of Chanukkah after all.

And one we will not soon forget.

Please leave your comments below. 

Read more by Felicia Graber.

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