Most years, we end up with a half box of extra Hanukkah candles at the end of the eight-day holiday. Not this year. When you don't have...
BELLEVUE — Most years, we end up with a half box of extra Hanukkah candles at the end of the eight-day holiday. Not this year.
When you don’t have electricity, lighting Hanukkah candles becomes part of your survival plan.
The morning after Seattle’s worst windstorm in more than a decade, my 12-year-old daughter put a silver lining on the reality of being among about a million people without electricity that day.
“The first night of Hanukkah is a perfect time for a power outage,” Perry said.
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I gave her a grateful hug and began to look forward to the quaint possibility of lighting candles in the dark that night.
The next day, we enjoyed being part of a group of hardy suburban Jews, wearing coats to a cold, dark synagogue on Saturday morning to celebrate Hanukkah and the bat mitzvah of a friend. And we laughed at our good fortune of being invited to a friend’s Christmas concert on Sunday — at a church with both heat and electricity.
Around the fourth night of Hanukkah — an eight-night Jewish holiday celebrating an obscure military victory and the miracle of a lamp that burned for eight days even though there was only enough oil for one — the joy of Hanukkah in the dark had begun to wear off.
“Can we light all eight candles tonight?” both my husband and my daughter asked, shivering indoors in their winter coats and hats. You’re supposed to add one candle each night, leading up the grand finale of eight candles on the eighth night, which falls on Friday this year.
“No,” said the retired religious-school teacher in me. “But when the first candles burn out, why don’t we light another set?”
I rushed outside to check on our potato latkes.
Normally, these pan-fried potato pancakes are made in a warm, well-lit kitchen, filling your house with the delicious smell of fried food, maybe a little smoke and a big mess to clean up.
Not this year. Latkes in a cast-iron skillet on the grill are my family’s best new tradition. No smell, no mess.
Another new tradition: the Hanukkah hootenanny. In my desperation to draw attention from the battery-powered thermostat — which showed our house was about 47 degrees inside and only about 10 degrees colder outside — I announced we would be having an evening of old-time family entertainment.
My daughter rushed — yes, rushed — to pull out her viola. (I hope her teacher is reading this.) We played a few duets on our cold-and-out-of-tune instruments for an appreciative audience of one other human and two cats.
Perry recited some poetry. Then my husband shared his own impromptu avant garde composition on the cello, until my daughter begged him to stop.
Our second set of Hanukkah candles was burning low, and no one wanted to go outside to get more firewood. So we called an end to the evening’s entertainment and went to bed, praying the gas in our grill would last eight nights.