How do you bring light into the holidays and then into the dark days of winter that follow?
That was a question I pondered after a discussion of something I had always taken for granted – lighting the Chanukah menorah. You see, for all my years, I have observed the lighting from left to right, starting with one candle on the left, plus the one in the center (the shamas candle) that is used to light all the others. As the 8 days mount, you add another. I thought that was the only way to do it and that the reason you do it that way is because that is how we read a Siddur (the Jewish prayer book). But in my Kabbalah class last week, several women spoke of lighting the menorah with all 8 candles to begin with and taking 1 a way each night of the holiday.
Who knew there was more than one way? And did anyone ever say that there wasn’t?
Such was also the thought that came to me when my neighbor, who has THE most decorated holiday home we have ever lived near, offered to string white lights (his version of non denominational) around our home. We appreciated the offer and passed. I grew up without holiday lights. “It just wasn’t something Jewish people did.”
Why not? Aren’t they just lights?
Which led to another conversation about my winter ritual of simply lighting a candle in the evening as it grows dark. Around 5pm, I put on Pandora, light a candle and sometimes, pour a drink. It is calming and cozy in my kitchen as I make dinner.
My other neighbor, who is Catholic, said she has never been into candles, as it was not part of her upbringing, outside of Church. Hmmm…do I light one at 5pm, cause it is part of mine? Jewish people tend to light candles on Friday night (to bring in the Sabbath), Saturday night ( to usher it out) and on the anniversary of the death of a loved one (Yortzeit candle). It never occurred to me that it was in my DNA.
All this talk about light has made me think that it’s not what kind of lights I light, but how I bring light to the holidays, dark days of winter and rituals in my home. I even started thinking about the fun of making candles in different ways. Check out the link from good old Martha Stewart. If anyone knows how to kindle the festive lights, it’s her!
Where do you MindFully find light in the dark of winter? Let us know!
One thought on “Light of the Season”
This blog did shine a soft light of awareness in me…and I think that’s why I’ve always loved this season. As a young girl, I’ve always enjoyed the pretty, sparkling, twinkling lights I would see blossom around my neighborhood. As a young newlywed, it was something that would illuminate my faith in humanity and somehow fill me with assurity that, one day, we would reach our dreams as a couple and a family. As a young mother, it allowed me to pass on those feelings of joy, compassion, glee and family to my own daughters. Now, as a truly middle-aged woman whose daughters have already begun their individual life paths, these lights of holiday spirit remind me of times before I’ve obtained some of the dreams I chased as a younger woman, as well as illuminating those that I’ve traded in for new, substantive ones now that I have matured and experienced more of life. And while my experiencing these holiday lights has changed over these past 50 years, as has the way I absorb viewing them, I realized after reading this blog that the way I feel when I strike a match to light a candle hasn’t diminished or changed at all. There’s a momentary, tiny surge of excitement that reveals itself in the briefest of moments, right before I strike the match. It’s a tiny hesitation when the match head rests on the strike plate, right before its pushed along that darkened strip, my eyes focused completely on the colored match tip that, in one surging instant, erupts and engulfs in a tiny flame that encompasses the end of the match stick. That one flashing instant when you barely have time to ask yourself, did it work? Then a brief touch to a wick and that moment is preserved in a soft, gentle moment that breathes out “Yessssssss…” That magic feeling only disappears when you no longer notice it, caught up in your day to day. But it is there for you to experience just as fresh each time. Thank you for helping me to remember this. I plan on lighting a candle tonight, and will smile, thinking of you.