December 28, 2006
The Last Miracle for the Year
Julie - This is a season that I’ve never enjoyed much. I didn’t grow up with any religious training or belief, but I’ve always appreciated the spiritual side to this convergence of holidays around the winter solstice. In this dark time there are celebrations of light all around us. From the Chanukah and Kwanzaa candles to the sublime and ridiculousness of Christmas lights. Yet, like Charlie Brown, I’ve been turned off by the bombardment of commercialism. And somewhat offended by the assumed Christian nature of it all.
In my household growing up we lit the Chanukah lights without ceremony. We had a Christmas tree and on Christmas morning we had presents and a feast of bagels, lox, whitefish, and matzoh brie. My husband and I, a no-longer Catholic and a never-was Jew, have developed our own traditions as many families do. On Chanukah we light the candles naming each for a miracle. For Christmas we go out behind our house and find an evergreen that could be spared within its forest home – too close to its neighbor, too much in the shade of larger trees to grow. We thank it and its surroundings, cut it down, and bring it in. We decorate it with the glass ornaments that we buy from our neighbor, the glass-blower, each year and with other decorations that are meaningful to us. It’s sparse and beautiful.
This year I spent the first half of Chanukah with my family in California. I shared our miracle tradition with them the first night and named it “family.” As the week progressed I privately listed my own miracles – health, love, community, music, beauty, and friends. The last day of Chanukah was a trying day for me and I am hard pressed to find a miracle, a gratitude, or a blessing to go with it. In a few moments the sun will rise on the next day, the day after Chanukah. The days are slowly, imperceptibly, growing longer now. It was strength, determination, persistence that brought me through my health crisis this year: a strong sense of self that I don’t think I’d previously recognized I owned. I guess that all that will bring me through this current crisis and every one to follow. Maybe I’ll name the last miracle this year as opportunity.
The comments to this entry are closed.