When it comes to Jewish Holidays, I celebrate mostly through the foods traditional to the festivals. When Passover rolls around I bake up a big pan of Matzo Kugel and pray that my cousin will make brisket. Purim means hamantaschen. For Rosh Hashanah I dip slices of apple into a bowl of honey and I make potato latkes for Hanukkah.
However, I do have a menorah, and tonight, on a whim, I decided to light it (as it’s the first night of Hanukkah). Like so many of my current possessions, it came with the apartment. I remember it from my childhood. It belonged to my grandfather and always sat on the bookshelf in the den. We only ever visited in the summer, so I don’t know whether he would light it during Hanukkah each year or not, although there is some wax in the candle cups, so I’m guessing he did.
Somewhere along the way, the menorah sustained some injury. It is bent, wobbly and is missing the holder for the final night’s candle. I’ll have to improvise a way to secure that last candle (if I remember to light it at all). There was something really nice, deeply satisfying even, about stumbling through what little I know of the Hanukkah prayer and lighting those candles. It makes me think that I should pay a little more attention to the parts of the Jewish Holidays that go beyond the food.