Chanukah Night One Notes- Life and Death

The esteemed RWAC set the tone for my post by turning me onto Life is Beautiful. I liked the song a lot, but these lyrics just grabbed me:

“I know some things that you don’t
I’ve done things that you won’t
There’s nothing like a trail of blood
to find your way back home

I was waiting for my hearse
What came next was so much worse
It took a funeral to make me feel alive

Just open your eyes
Just open your eyes
And see that life is beautiful.
Will you swear on your life,
That no one will cry at my funeral?”

Last night I found out that another one of my contemporaries has died. I won’t lie and say that he was a good friend. He wasn’t. I am not sure if I have seen him since we graduated, but it touched me. He was young. He was a father and he was taken too early. My understanding is that it was cancer, but I can’t say what kind. I just know that he is gone.

I am a bit dismayed by the number of people I know that have died. Look at my wedding photos. More than two tables are gone. But it is the number of people I know that should be in their late thirties to early forties that throws me. How many children have been robbed of a mother or father.

We had a rough start to the beginning of Chanukah. In part you could blame fatigue. The children were exhausted. They had a long and very busy day that left them overtired. By the time we lit candles they had managed to fight with each other over several silly things and left their mother and I pulling our hair out.

But just as soon as we began chanting the blessings I saw a change. The frown on their faces changed and their expressions changed. As I watched the reflection of the flames dancing in their eyes I couldn’t help but smile. Listening to my youngest try and say Shehecheyanu was worth the price of admission.

They received a few simple gifts and we talked about why we celebrate Chanukah. My son made me beam with pride as he recited the story. He understands that this isn’t some excuse to get presents. My daughter, not so much. But that is ok. At 3.5 I can cut her some slack.

Let’s be honest. Every time she crawls into my lap and puts her arms around my neck I melt. Deep brown eyes peer into mine. Sometimes she takes her hair and puts it on her lip and says “I have a mustache like you.” It is cute. But she still hasn’t figured out how to give herself a mustache and a beard.

And thus ends the tale of the first night.

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  1. Jack's Shack December 6, 2007 at 6:29 am

    Hi Benning,

    Children make the holidays much more meaningful.

  2. benning December 5, 2007 at 10:07 pm

    Happy Chanukah, Jack. Nice story. Kids haven’t learned to just sigh when something – like a sister! – annoys them. Emotions are closer to the surface.

    I think that’s part of our joy in seeing children learn the meaning and reasons for Holy days. A lot of wonder in that.

  3. Jack's Shack December 5, 2007 at 5:32 pm


    Stories like this lend perspective, sad though they may be. But I’d prefer not to have so much. 😉

  4. rabbi without a cause December 5, 2007 at 5:22 pm

    Good post; sorry about the depressing death, with which I can commiserate, unfortunately.

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