The Little Things

Monday Morning Musings:

My mother washes her hands

I flashback to a memory–

my grandfather, her father

rubbing his hands over and over

to dry them

 

We’d been out walking in the woods–

was this the day we were startled by riders on horseback?

(A magical sight.)

My sister and I were little

my grandfather was wise,

 

in the way that grandparents are

to young grandchildren

who see beyond the surface

to the hearts beneath

beating with love.

 

And there’s an understanding

that time exists in the now–

the autumn of one life,

the spring of another

co-existing in this moment

 

I tell my mother about this memory

and we talk of this and that

I go through her old cards

reading portions to her

as I clean out a drawer

 

a past, relics, consigned to a trash bag.

Who was this person?

Where was this photo taken?

My mother can’t see and can’t remember—

all the little things that make up a life.

 

All the little things that make up a city, a world–

the reindeer on a roof display

the stone carvings on a building

the snowflake on a lamppost

the candle burning in a window

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We celebrate the first night of Hanukkah,

fry the latkes,

light the candles

toast “L’Chaim!”

I dance to “Ocho Kandelikas.”

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My husband and I watch the candles burn.

We talk of this and that–

old memories and to-do lists,

the little things that make up a life,

the everyday ordinary and the magical exceptional.

 

 

Every year, Santa comes through town on a fire engine. I have no idea how this started, but his helpers give candy canes to the children (and adults) who come out to see him.

There are a bunch of movies I want to see, but I haven’t had a chance, and I don’t know if I will have any time in the next week. It’s a crazy time of year, isn’t it? I had an anxiety dream the other night, which I haven’t had in a long time. But–we finished watching The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and we’re on to the finally season of The Expanse. And there are latkes and candles and cuddly cats. . .so life may be stressful, but not awful.

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Thank you to all of you who take the time to read my writing. I truly appreciate you. I feel like I’m Mr. Rogers saying “It’s you I like,” but it’s true. Happy Holidays to all of you!

Here’s Pink Martini performing “Ocho Kanelikas.” Feel free to dance along!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Candles

Monday Morning Musings:

“Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness.”

—Attributed to Anne Frank all over the Internet, but without any source that I can find

 

A single candle

(for miracles)

flickers in the night

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joined by others

till eight in a row

they burn, and then they go

leaving only melted wax behind

and yet, perhaps I find

something, a sense of peace

in watching them increase

and we remember how our daughters

bet on which candle would stand last

one that burned not quite as fast—

lovely memories from the past.

 

 

A single candle

(for wishes)

flickers on a cupcake

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baked with love

and so sweet, delivered as surprise treat.

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It’s a strange birthday,

things don’t quite go my way

I lose a filling, and due to the snow

we stay and home, and don’t go

to dinner and a show,

but we eat pizza and drink some wine

and it’s fine, I say,

we’ll do something another day.

 

Everything a bit off this week,

small victories tinged with apprehension

tension over what might come, or be

a tax bill to help the rich–

oh, if only I could flip a switch

to eradicate ignorance and greed

wish on candles and stars that people would read

would help those in need

and instead of hindering, would keep freed

thought and scientific inquiry.

 

The CDC, an agency, supposed to be science-based

is not supposed to use the word

it’s not to the taste

of the current administration

who would like to see a nation

without education based on facts

but the monster simply reacts

without nuance or tact, but snaps,

just twitter taps and taps and taps

 

We fry latkes

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and when we’re through

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we eat them–and donuts, too

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because it’s a holiday of oil and sweets

and it’s a treat to share them with love

we eat the food and laugh and talk of–

oh this and that–

we watch their dog and see their cat

climb in search of treasure—food!

Yes, we’re in a holiday mood

as candles flicker and lights glow

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but soon it’s time to go.

 

I spend the next day working

(cats around me lurking)

I have too much work to do

I sit at my computer

in a bit of stupor

but as night falls

we light the candles

and watch the shadows on the walls

from the flickering glow

I think of miracles past

(wonder if our country will last)

but let those thoughts slide

subside for a more festive mood

as we eat our Chinese food

and watch the Christmas shows

I might doze. . .

 

 

In the morning, before the dawn

I yawn and look up at the sky

and know that hope like a feather flies

and though the clouds block the stars

I know exactly where they are

I close my eyes and make a wish

I hope it flies and travels far.

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The First Night of Hanukkah

Monday Morning Musings:

“Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness.”

–Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl

“How far that little candle throws his beams!

So shines a good deed in a naughty world.”

–William Shakespeare, Portia, The Merchant of Venice (Act 5, Scene 1)

Season of miracles, season of light

A single candle glows bright

It’s the first night of Hanukkah.

 

I think of a candle shining in a window

And of the light traveling out into space.

The light of stars takes billions of years to reach us,

Traveling at 186,000 miles per second

But still I wonder if someone out there

Out there

Somewhere

Might see it.

 

 

As I fry latkes—

Lots and lots of latkes—

I listen to a Hanukkah CD.*

I listen to it every year,

But this year

I really listen

As the young girl asks her Uncle Joe

If miracles really happen?

He says it was a miracle when someone

Who was very sick got well

Or if a long war ends.

The child then says,

“What if there were no more wars.”

And Uncle Joe

Replies, “Yes, that would be a miracle.”

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Two pans; one spatula

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Season of violence, season of fear

A single candle brings cheer

It’s the first night of Hanukkah.

 

 

Rituals of thousands of years

The miracle of the oil

Burning for eight nights.

And we celebrate with latkes

And other delights.

Though of course

Long ago,

In lands torn by war,

As they were then

And are now,

There were no potatoes

Or candles packaged

Neatly in box.

 

But Hanukkah reminds us

Of rededication

And hope.

So at the darkest time of the year

We light a candle.

And then we light

Some more.

We celebrate

With family and friends

We eat too much

And we drink some wine.

We talk.

We laugh.

We sing and dance.

And rejoice–

Because in the face of darkness

We need to find the light.

 

And it doesn’t even matter

That my house and clothing

Smell of oil.

Because we have love

And laughter

And good food to eat.

Season of brightness, season of yearning

Lighting the candles till all of them are burning,

It’s the eight nights of Hanukkah.

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*A Child’s Hanukkah, The Jewish Wedding Band

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

December Grays

December is gray and dreary. It creeps in trailing vestiges of crisp autumn days and lingering aromas of Thanksgiving turkeys. It is dark here before 5 PM, and the sun does not reappear—when it does–until 7 AM. Thank goodness for central heat and electric lights! I understand the desire in previous centuries to conquer December’s gloom with Yule logs and candles. I understand the impulse to brighten the grays and browns of December with fragrant greens of fir and pine and the bright red of holly berries. I understand the requests for cinnamon and nutmeg scented treats, savory stews, and belly-warming drinks. I understand the wish for miracles to light the darkness of body and soul.

December is also the anniversary of my birth—yesterday. Some people with December birthdays feel that they do not receive a full birthday celebration in the midst of holiday celebrating. I look upon it as having extra days of celebration, and my birthday is simply one part of it. On Saturday, my husband and I went on a wine trolley tour of four South Jersey wineries. (We did this last year, too, and you can read about it here.  This year, my younger daughter and her boyfriend joined us, and we visited some wineries we had not been to before. It was a fun day, and I’m glad my husband and I got to share it with our daughter and her boyfriend. We laughed at the totally obnoxious group of women who drank vodka on the trolley and other drinks at our late lunch/dinner. (They sat at the bar; we sat at a table with a view of the lake.) Thank goodness, though they stumbled, dropped things, and yelled, they did not spill anything on any of us or vomit on the trolley. I can appreciate even small holiday miracles.

Enjoying My Wine at Heritage Vineyards

Enjoying My Wine at Heritage Vineyards

Yesterday, on my actual birthday, I spent the afternoon relaxing. In true crazy cat woman fashion, I sat in my bathrobe, ate the double chocolate cake my daughter had baked for me, and re-watched The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, as cats alternated cuddling and prowling about the living room. Then my husband and I went to see the next Hunger Games movie, followed by the now-traditional birthday meal at our favorite Indian restaurant. It was low-key, but fun.

As I get older, I realize it’s not presents that I desire so much (although they’re nice, of course). It’s the love of husband, family, and good friends that I cherish the most. It’s the desire to continue to be strong in mind and body, and to have warmth and cheer in the dismal grays of December.

Tonight is the first night of Hanukkah. My husband and I will light the candles, and I will think of miracles. One is that I am connected to everyone who reads this post. Time and space have been manipulated in ways our ancestors could never imagine. Peace on earth; goodwill to all.

And don’t forget to eat latkes. They’re a culinary miracle.

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For information about the Wine Tours see Vintage South Jersey.