Reflections in the Shadows

It’s over, another Chanukah down, nothing but memories to cherish and candle wax to pick off the shelf in front of the window.

It was a truly lovely eight nights. I know many families who weren’t able to light the candles every evening due to school obligations and the dizzying December schedule that only slows down on Dec. 24, and I’m so grateful that we were able to make and take the time. (For those who wish Chanukah would just sync up with a major holiday so we could actually have a nice insulated rest with the family, take heart, ’cause next year Chanukah starts right before Thanksgiving. Woot woot, latke-stuffed turkey? Cranberry sufganiyot? Fried pumpkin pie?)

Yenta Boy received a ukelele and entertained us by immediately learning Florence + The Machine’s “Dog Days.” Little Yenta Girl showed us she wasn’t so little anymore by shooting 17 baskets in a row in her new NBA-regulation hoop. We spent a lot of time laying on the rug in the living room making sure all our menorahs didn’t set the house on fire and laughing at the dog’s hideous gas.

The brightness of the last couple of nights was dimmed by the horrific tragedy in Newtown Friday morning, and I hugged my children even tighter this weekend. I let them have the extra piece of cake and watch another episode of whatever crap show they’re obsessed with on Netflix these days. Their presence seems even more precious, their strong health even more miraculous. I felt like I could see eternity in the candles’ light reflected in their eyes.

I am inside-out with grief for the parents who lost their children and the town whose community must stagger forward with the yoke of this awful, awful thing. I cannot get the sweet face of 6 year-old Noah Pozner — the youngest of the 20 children killed — out of my head. He was probably telling his friends what he got for Chanukah on Thursday night when Adam Lanza burst in with his guns. Jewish law requires a body be laid to rest as soon as possible. His funeral is today.

Every year I make a donation in the name of my kids’ teachers as a holiday thanks (I’m almost positive they do not want another smelly candle) and this year’s went to My Sandy Hook Family Fund. I hope it lessens the load a little, though there isn’t enough money in the world to fill the void left by these small people and their courageous teachers.

May the dark days be over, may the dark days be done.

 

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