The First Night

I have desperately needed to get a hair cut but I have dreaded trying to find new hair stylists here in the north. I really miss Bob and Linda, a husband and wife who have cut our hair since JJ was very young. They have always treated us like family and prayed for us faithfully. It’s hard to find anyone like them who love us so much. Besides the fact that I didn’t look forward to finding new stylists, we are also trying to be careful with our money so….I asked EJ if he’d cut my hair. He has sometimes cut his own, JJ’s, and a friend’s hair. He isn’t trained, but he does quite well. He has never cut women’s hair before but I figured that it’s winter so if he totally botched it I could just wear a hat whenever I left our forest until my hair grew back. EJ did research about cutting women’s hair as well as about cutting very fine hair like mine. On Thursday night he texted me from work, “Do you trust me?” I replied, “YOLO!” Which means, “You only live once!”

JJ and me
JJ and me with my new hair cut.

So Friday morning EJ sat me down on a stool, studied my face, and began to cut. I was a little concerned when he kept cutting shorter and shorter but….YOLO! When he finished, I looked in the mirror and, oh, my goodness, I loved it! He did great. I think I have found my new hair stylist! JJ was at work when his Dad cut my hair, and I wondered what he would think when he saw my new style. He was surprised but he has repeated many times that he really thinks it looks good.

JJ lighting lighting the menorah on the first night of Hanukkah in 2010.
JJ lighting the menorah on the first night of Hanukkah in 2010.

Tonight is the first of the eight days of Hanukkah. We have been celebrating Hanukkah since 2009 after we began to learn Hebrew in our homeschool. This is one of my most favorite holidays because it is so deeply meaningful and relevant. As explains, “More than twenty-one centuries ago, the Holy Land was ruled by the Seleucids (Syrian-Greeks), who sought to forcefully Hellenize the people of Israel. Against all odds, a small band of faithful Jews defeated one of the mightiest armies on earth, drove the Greeks from the land, reclaimed the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and rededicated it to the service of G-d. When they sought to light the Temple’s menorah (the seven-branched candelabrum), they found only a single cruse of olive oil that had escaped contamination by the Greeks;miraculously, the one-day supply burned for eight days, until new oil could be prepared under conditions of ritual purity.”

You can read about the history of Hanukkah at Hebrew4Christians. The Biblical Holidays website has several articles about the celebration, including one titled Why Are Christians Celebrating Hanukkah.

Hanukkah is very relevant to the world today because it teaches about not allowing ourselves to get assimilated by the culture around us and letting our faith shine in the darkness.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. – John 1:1-4

The hours JJ had to work today prevented him from celebrating Hanukkah with us tonight so I made latkes for him for lunch so he could enjoy them before he left. I also made more later for EJ and me. I use my friend’s grandmother’s latke recipe. When my friend gave me the recipe, she shared some of her grandma’s comments. I wrote them on my recipe card and enjoy them every year when I make latkes at Hanukkah. To make latkes, a person has to grate potatoes, and my friend shared:

Grandma says if you get your knuckles it just means you really put yourself into your cooking – LOL If you have a better way, go for it! Grandma’s card says that when you make them, some people will behave like they haven’t eaten in years. “And when you are cooking for people who enjoy them so much you won’t mind grating potatoes all day long. ho ho!” she says.

I took my laptop to the kitchen and while I made latkes I listened to the Maccabeats’ song on Youtube called Latke Recipe, which is a really fun song that made me feel like dancing in the kitchen. I also like the Maccabeats’ song Candlelight and Eight Nights as well as many others. They have amazing voices. EJ and I also listened to many other songs throughout the day–like the Hanukkah Rock of Ages, which is hilarious. There are also some beautiful songs, such Chanuka, Oh Chanuka by Tzlil V’Zemer Boys. As JJ walked out to his car, he was humming the last song.

EJ cutting a branch for a chanukiah
EJ cutting a branch for a chanukiah

We have an eight-branch Hanukkah menorah, called a chanukiah, which we light every year. This afternoon I was thinking about Hanukkah and not letting the darkness overcome our light and about how very dark our Enchanted Forest is at night. I thought that it would be awesome to take our chanukiah outside and place it on the large rocks where it could blaze in the blackness. However, our chanukiah is small and I didn’t think it would be steady on the rocks. Then I remembered seeing pictures of beautiful chanukiahs made out of  tree branches. I told EJ and we walked into our forest and found a large fallen branch from which he cut into a useable length to make into a chanukiah. It seems very special to make our own chanukiah from our forest for our first Hanukkah in our new home.

Waiting to let our lights shine in the dark.
Waiting to let our lights shine in the dark.

EJ fashioned the branch so it would be steady. He drilled holes for the candles. The Servant candle is used to light the others and is always set higher than the others. On many chanukiahs it is set in the middle of the other candles.  However EJ placed the Servant candle in a slightly elevated position at the right. I found a box of large candles in our pantry that we could use. I set our chanukiah out on the big rock in preparation for lighting them. When it was dark, EJ and I read a beautifully meaningful Hanukkah devotional, which a friend has written. (I have the most awesome friends!)

Then we went outside to light the candles in the dark night. Danny came with us. There was a slight breeze that didn’t seem much but it was enough to threaten the light of our candles so after we had read the blessings and lit the candles, we carefully brought it inside. We set it on our heart-shaped stool in front of the windows in the living room, turned off all the lights, and are enjoying the light of the candles as they slowly burn down.

I took a few pictures outside, but with Danny tugging at his leash, I wasn’t able to get good pictures. But here are a couple. You can click on them to make them bigger and read the captions.

This weekend was a weekend of joy, culminating in immense joy today. As I went about my day I thought that it feels as if we are finally emerging from weariness into rest, from sadness into renewed joy.

3 Comments on “The First Night

  1. You look beautiful and the cut is you, Eric did a great service for you in your hair needs, and what a joyful prayerful weekend for all of you. We celebrate with joy this Advent Season that we are into, always preparing for His coming and enjoying the journey. Bob and I did a Marriage Retreat this last weekend, and it was a beautiful gift to give one another, we are so enjoying one another and each day we are given by our Lord.
    Eric you need a job we have an opening, tell your men hi!!

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