It's won't be the 12 Days of Christmas around here (we've already determined I hate Christmas) but it is the start of Hannukah tonight. I was raised an amalgam of Christian and Jewish, attending Hebrew School during the week but putting up a Christmas tree with my mother's family in December. Perhaps it's just that I'm an equal opportunity present get-ter, or, as my father often bemoans, "Every day in this house is Christmas," but I love that I had a little of both growing up.
Now that I live alone, though, things are a little different. The Menorah got lost in the shuffle of three moves in four months, so I've arranged a selection of the finest Ikea tea lights in my kitchen, with the intention of lighting the first tonight. I can't for the life of me remember the prayers on my own, although I'm sure I could continue if someone started. What I can remember, though, is the sizzly-crisp sounds of my Aunt Faith frying latkes in her kitchen from three houses ago. I remember my Israeli family filling my arms at my bat mitzvah in their living room, their home so open to me. I remember my mother, the only "Non Jew" of the family but by far the most responsible about holidays, wrapping Christmas presents with Hannukah paper. My father's Hannukah gelt tucked in my jewelry box, softly clinking as I rummage for my favorite necklace.
I'd like to spend the next few days filling the blog, and by extension, my own little corner of the world, with Good Will. Like my cousin Max, who began toasting at Thanksgiving a few years ago, I want to stop and be grateful for just a moment for all the sweetness in my life. There's much to be said about being grateful, but the simple act of stopping for one instant, to inhale the goodness around you has a remarkable affect on the rest of your day. I'm convinced that the inner peace I saw in many of my Egyptian friends comes from the fact that they stop their day five times to pray, to be thankful. I won't be posting five times a day, which I'm sure makes everyone exhale a little easier, but I'm going to try to write once a day for the next eight days. I can be pretty cranky at times, so this is definitely like the miracle of the oil lasting for eight days, if you get my drift.
And so, on this first day, I am thankful for my past. I don't just mean the things I remember, though those are pretty good. I mean the sense of place I found in Jerusalem, on the top of Mt. Sinai: that sense of remote past, that I am part of something larger than I can ever hope to understand. There is mystery in this world; I can feel it sliding through my fingers. Reading the same words as thousands before me in a land that by birthright belongs to us all, I realized that we are touched by the greatness around us. I don't necessarily mean religion, which I mistrust on principle, and I don't mean history. Our place, yours and mine, is in the line from our parents to our children; it's the place we are meant to dwell.
We are something, you and I. This world is better for having us in it, and for that, I am thankful.