When my grandfather, Isaac (“Poppop”), died in 1993, three years after my grandmother, Clara (“Bubby”), my mother gave me their menorah, which I’d loved and coveted (just look at those little double doors that actually open!) for as long as I can remember. Since then, it has always enjoyed a prominent display place in my home. Somewhere it would see me every day so it could wink at me like Poppop would. Just so I’d know it was there. It never asked me to use it or to even dust it, but just to let it sit there, where it could watch over me.
It has done so for ten years, and I’ve decided that this year is the one that will start my tradition of lighting its candles for this holiday. I’m not religious at all, but it is not for religious purposes that I want to uphold this tradition. Today I will light it in honor of Bubby’s and Poppop’s lives (Bubby was actually born on the first day of Hanukkah) and the memories of them that are burned forever inside me.
This morning when I took the menorah from the shelf, and blew dust from inside each of its candle holders, I noticed that each houses a tiny candle stub topped by a tiny wick, and a bit of dripped wax still clings to the rightmost holder. I don’t know the last time Bubby and Poppop used the menorah, but this evidence of their last use touched me in ways I don’t even want to begin describe.
Tonight when I light the candles, Bubby and Poppop will be next to me, watching over me, making sure I don’t burn myself as I fumble to light the candles in their honor.
Happy Hanukkah, or Chanukkah (or Chinook or Hammacher-Schlemmer)!