Monday, December 14, 2020

Hanukkah 2020

Hanukkah in a pandemic.

I didn’t think it would bother me as much as it does. It’s a holiday I treasure because it brings us, as a family, closer together. While it’s not a major holiday by any means, reserving time each night to gather around the menorahs, light the candles, and find a little something special to do each evening, is the equivalent of sharing a family meal together. We bond. We laugh. We talk. 


This year, we still do those things. I’m lucky enough to have my girls home for the holiday. They are both healthy. The four of us can be together. Our immediate family traditions haven’t changed.


But other things have. 


We didn’t have our big family Hanukkah party this year. Instead, we FaceTimed and texted and did quick present drop-offs. No cousins going off laugh together, no hugs.


We celebrated one night with my parents, from a distance. How do you do that? Well, here’s one suggestion:


Plan for celebrating Hanukkah with grandparents, COVID edition:

1) If possible, FaceTime. If not (for example, if suggesting FT will cause a riot), move onto step 2

2) Invite them to arrive at sundown--since that occurs at 4:30, no dinner is involved (aka, no eating without a mask).

3) Wear masks. No hugs or kisses. Sit over THERE and don't move!

4) Provide candles for grandparents' menorah, having determined that our orphan candles burn waaaayyyy faster than their fancy ones. 

5) Strategically arrange menorahs so we are far away from each other, but in some sort of line so that six people can be in the photo (probably not possible, but...)

6) Do not serve latkes or fried Oreos (see reason #2).

7) You may only drink if you're willing to drink through a straw. Yeah, I didn't think so.

8) Spend the half hour the candles are burning yelling back and forth since you're sitting across the room wearing masks (I knew an open floor plan would come in handy).

9) Candles burn out, BYE!! 

Miss Manners is gonna kill me. Unless of course, she wants to be safe, too. Then maybe I’ll get a one-year pass.


We also didn’t celebrate with our friends. No “have menorah, will travel” and no “fried Oreo extravaganza.” Not this year. Traveling and extravaganzas are frowned upon. 


I get it. I really do. I support being extra careful. I’m the one who tells everyone not to do anything, not to forget their masks, to wash their hands again, to skip the hugs. But it’s been nine months and it’s getting old.


We still have the light and the warmth of the candles. Especially this year, lighting the darkness is important. And maybe, this year, we ARE the light in the darkness. The ones (of many, but not nearly enough) who follow the rules, who keep others safe, who find joys in the forced proximity. Maybe we’re showing our will to survive so that when this is finally over, we’ll celebrate the darkness that didn’t overtake us, and the light that we passed on to others.


Wear a mask. Get vaccinated. Be the light.


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