We go about our day, everything is normal, and suddenly something happens to remind us of times gone by and a tear falls…
Last night we lit the first Chanukah candle (there is the Shammos with eight candles, one for each night). To say our prayers and fulfill the mitzvoh (commandment), we light an open flame (in our home, candles) menorah, but we use an electric menorah in the window for display and safety reasons (curtains, shades, etc.).
Let me fill you in on back story here:
My family has the tradition of passing down the candle menorah to the oldest daughter by her first Chanukah in her married home. Somehow my mom received two heirloom menorahs so both my sister and I each received one. By the time I was married, and my parents gave me their second menorah, I wanted to replace a menorah for them; my mom was getting wary of the open flame and when safety is involved adjustments can be made, so I bought them an electric menorah which they used in December 1976.
My dad passed away suddenly in the spring of 1977 and later that year my mom (with the help of her daughters and their husbands) packed up the apartment. There were plans for her to move in with her children, but first she wanted to relax in Florida with her mom. She had a stroke and although we brought her back up north to be close to us, she never was able to come home; Mommy passed away in January 1979.
I’ve used the electric menorah we had given to my folks in my window since 1979. When my children were very young, before college, work and marriage, they used to take turns. One child would pick out the Chanukah candles to be lit in the brass menorah my mom passed along to me and the other child would screw in the correct number of light bulbs for the display. Mark and I have taken over both tasks in the more recent years. When my daughter married in 2007 we replaced the candle menorah for our use as the tradition carried forward.
Yesterday afternoon I took the electric menorah, a white plastic now turned yellow from age, from its box in the closet and hoped that each of the orange bulbs would still light; I plugged it in while standing in the kitchen to check if I had to replace any. All nine of the bulbs lit… then one flamed briefly and before I could pull the plug a circuit breaker switched off and half my kitchen was without power. I called out to my husband that “a fuse blew” (I’m old school and still call it that).
He reset the switch and came upstairs to see what I had done and there I stood just looking at the damaged menorah and, yes, crying quietly. He inspected it and confirmed my fear, the menorah bought 39-years earlier that my parents lit as they shared their last Chanukah together, was done. This simple gift I had given to my parents meant more to me than I ever realized. I mumbled how I had looked for orange light bulbs when I was in the supermarket just in case they were needed, but all that the store had was an LED menorah with little blue lights.
My husband, thinking swiftly, simply said, “Get your jacket on”. He drove us to the store and bought one of those LED menorahs with little blue lights and that is what was displayed in our window for the first night of the festival. Right after we came home and set the new plastic menorah in the window, I set the Shammos and one candle in the “real” menorah and Mark said the blessings as he lit them.
On the first night there are three blessings, the first one is Shehecheyanu where we thank G-d for giving us life and enabling us to reach this season. Seasons come and seasons go; life is forever moving forward. After 39 years the plastic electric menorah that I always thought of as my parents’ menorah has been retired and I admit without shame that I shed some tears as memories flitted through my mind. Now Mark and I will have new memories to make and share with a new display piece.
I hope that your holiday celebrations are fun and festive and whichever holidays or events you observe are warm and fulfilling.
Chag Sameach (Happy Holidays)
|My parents' electric Menorah|