My Hanukkah Story Mar 4, 2009 23:21:16 GMT -5
Post by huronna on Mar 4, 2009 23:21:16 GMT -5
By Paul E. Jamison
By Paul E. Jamison
It had been a nice day in Kansas, sunny and a bit warmer than normal for December. But now, Sundown was not far off and the temperatures were getting cooler. But the house was warm and the gathering of ferrets didn't mind how cold it was outside.
Three kits were sitting around the living-room table and watching as an older ferret leaned down and spun a small four-sided top on the surface. He gave the top a few twirls and handed it to the smallest child. "Okay, Jessie, you try it."
Jessie took the top in her little paws and carefully held it upright on the tabletop. She then flicked her fingers and they watched as it spun around the table.
The older ferret said, "Very good, little one! That was a good spin! Now let's see which side it falls on."
The top eventually slowed down and skittered to a stop. It fell over and they looked closely at the Hebrew letter on the side facing up. Little Jessie looked up at the older ferret and asked, "What's that mean, Papa?"
The adult ferret said, "That's the letter Nun – that means that nothing has happened; if this were a real dreidel game, it would be the next player's turn to spin."
Another adult ferret, a Dark-Eyed White wearing a black yarmulke with red trim, came up and said, "Teaching your daughter and her cousins your old tricks, Aaron?"
Aaron smiled and replied, "And why should I tell you, cousin? I'll bet you'd just love finding out my dreidel secrets."
The other ferret smiled blandly back and shrugged his shoulders. "Oh, well, it's not like I really need to know them."
Aaron's smile turned quirky. "Good point. It's a good thing you're not a gambling ferret. I would have been a pauper a long time ago."
"A chocolate-coin pauper, at least."
Children always enjoy seeing one adult one-up another, so the kits laughed at this. So did a couple of other ferrets standing nearby, holding mugs of Ferretone tea and watching. One was a handsome Sable; his campaign hat was hung in the entryway, but he still wore his red serge RCMP uniform. The other was a Blaze, older but still handsome himself, wearing his own yarmulke.
The Blaze turned to the Mountie and said, "It's good of you to join us, Murphy, for the first night of Hanukkah. It's always nice to see you."
Murphy replied, "Thank you very much, Jakob. I'll admit that it's partly selfish. Miryam is a terrific cook. But that's only part of it." He took a sip of his Ferretone tea and gestured to the Dark- Eyed White by the table. "You know your son Sammy is one of my very best friends. It means a lot to me to celebrate the holiday with him."
Jakob nodded. "Oh, I know. It's my belief that you can tell a lot about a person by the friends he keeps. That must say a lot about my son – and you. I'm only sorry that Max couldn't be here tonight. Didn't you say he was at the Wichita State University campus tonight?"
"Yes, he's participating in a seminar on handicapped-access issues, and he couldn't get out of it. He did say he'd come by later in the week."
"Good, good. He's a fine fellow as well. Oh, and Murphy?"
"You're right about Miryam's cooking. My wife's latkes are to die for!"
Sammy turned from the table and walked over to the sofa, where a Cinnamon jill sat holding a bundle in her arms.
Sammy leaned over and asked, "Did I hear someone over here say something?" He looked down at the baby kit in the jill's arms; the wee one looked back at him with big, round eyes. "How is little Levi doing? I hope he's not getting bored with the dull routine around here."
"Oh, no, Rabbi! He was fascinated with the spinning dreidel. He's much too young to play the game, of course, but I'm sure he'd love to watch."
"He'll get his chance after we light the Menorah; that won't be long. Then the kits will play the dreidel game. And how about you, Clarissa? Are you doing okay?"
Clarissa smile. "I'm fine, Rabbi. Your family has been very kind to me. I feel very welcome here."
Sammy nodded. "That's my family. We don't believe in someone being alone for the Festival of Lights. We're happy that you –" He looked down at the big, round eyes. "- and Levi could be here."
"Thank you, Rabbi."
Sammy nodded. "You're very welcome. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to get ready for the ceremony."
Two older ferrets stood to one side, watching the get-together. One wore a yarmulke of white silk with gold trim and the other was dressed in his own red serge RCMP uniform. Both ferrets had a tinge of grey in their hair. No one paid any attention to them. It was as if they weren't there. In a way, they weren't.
The older Mountie said, "Levi, I'm sure you've heard this before, but you have a fine family there."
The other replied, "Thank you very much. I am proud of how they turned out. It's probably not right to play favorites, but I admit that I am especially proud of my grandson Sammy." He pointed to where Sammy was settling his prayer shawl on his shoulders.
The Mountie nodded. "A fine lad. He makes a good companion to my son Murphy."
"Well, Murphy is a son any father would be proud of. He takes after his old man in that respect."
"Thank you. A fine boy he is." Constable Gordon watched as Murphy bugged his eyes and tongue out at the baby; the little one laughed with glee. "And good with kids."
Levi chuckled, then said thoughtfully, "I wish I could celebrate this holiday with them. I would so much love to tell them how much they mean to me."
Gordon nodded. "Well, I know you can. I have with Murphy. But under very special circumstances, I'm afraid. No one here can see us now. Someday – you'll get to talk with your grandson. For now, remember that you're in their thoughts, and they do love you."
Levi smiled and nodded.
The gathering became quiet. It was Sundown. Constable Gordon removed his campaign hat.
Sammy came forward with the Menorah and two candles. He placed the nine-branched candelabrum on the table and placed the two candles in two of the branches. One candle – the Shamash – went into the central holder and the other in the far right holder. He began to recite the shehechiyanu blessing.
"Blessed are You, the Lord our God, King of the Universe, Who has kept us alive, sustained us, and brought us to this season."
Sammy lit the Shamash and recited more blessings.
"Blessed are You, the Lord our God, King of the Universe, Who sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us to kindle the Hanukkah light.
"Blessed are You, the Lord our God, King of the Universe, Who made miracles for our forefathers, in those days at this season."
Sammy removed the Shamash from the central holder and lit it, using it to light the first candle. He then recited a prayer.
"We kindle these lights
For the miracles and the wonders
For the redemption and the battles
Which You performed for our forefathers
In those days of this season
Through Your holy priests.
During all eight days of Hanukkah
These lights are sacred
And we are not permitted to make ordinary use of them
But only to look at them
In order to express thanks and praise to Your great Name
For Your miracles, Your wonders, and Your salvations."
As the family began to sing the Ma'oz Tzur hymn, Gordon nudged Levi in his ectoplasmic ribs and pointed to the little bundle in Clarissa's lap.
As the two spirits looked down, little Levi looked back at them with those big, round eyes. Gordon had been wrong – someone could see them.
Little Levi grinned at them.
Blessings and prayers translated from the Hebrew