Thursday, January 03, 2008

Memories Of Hanukah


It seems that just about every religion has a holiday around the time of year that the days finish getting shorter and then start getting longer again. That must have seemed a true miracle to people with no concept of astronomy as we know it today. For the most part candles are lit, special foods prepared and eaten, kids are filled with a sense of wonder and gifts are exchanged. Most people in the U.S. celebrate Christmas, which seems to have been a twelve day celebration ("The Twelve Days Of Christmas") at one time. Jews and Hindus have their Hanukah and Diwalli holidays each lasting eight days.

I was brought up Jewish and one of the big thrills as a little child was the lighting of the Hanukah candles in the menorah (candle holder), one on the first day, two on the second, and so on. The candle used to light the others, the shamos, is put out every night after use but it's allowed to burn itself out on the last night. My two kids always loved lighting the candles, especially when it was at Grandma Ruth's apartment. Maybe it wasn't the candle lighting so much as the home made feast that she served afterwards that got them so excited?

Shame on me, but I forget where this menorah was located. I saw it and my first thought was of my granddaughter Gabriella up in Cambridge, MA, her eyes wide with wonder and glee. At only fifteen months of age she'd be all excited by the novelty of the custom, although she will probably not remember it from this year. The first Hanukah that I can remember was when I was three. I'm hoping that maybe next year we can all be together to light the candles, not fake "candles" like these light bulbs. Real candles!

On this shot the lighting was dim, it was dusk outside, and as usual I'm trying to hold the camera steady in one hand held out at arm's length. You can just barely make out some of the brighter areas of my face towards the left of center. I did manage to get a decently sharp image at 1/4 of a second, and I'm glad for that.

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