We’ll Leave the Light On
Taking Down the Christmas Lights
Years ago, my brother-in-law had a great idea for a business. He wanted to offer a service to take down Christmas lights after Christmas was over.
Though I am not a Christian, I think he is really on to something. As an outsider, it would seem to me that people get very excited about Christmas, yet when it is over it is far less exciting to take the lights down and put everything away.
This is really basic human nature. The Jewish community just finished celebrating Chanukah. It is not so fun to put away our menorahs, to clean up the decorations and put everything away until next year.
But do we really put Chanukah away until next year?
Not if we really understood the holiday.
We celebrated the victory of a small group of Jews who miraculously were able to defeat the Greek army and restore the Temple. We fought off the Hellenistic ideology of man centered paganism. We put God at the center. It was a victory of the spirit. It was a victory of light over dark. They re-dedicated the Temple and lit a small amount of oil sufficient for one day that miraculously burned for eight days.
If the holiday of Chanukah was focused merely on gift giving and having fun, then Chanukah is over after the eighth and final day. But, if Chanukah was focused on what truly matters—bringing the light of spirituality in to the world—then Chanukah never really ends.
There are two ways you can see Chanukah or any holiday for that matter. One is to see the calendar as a circle and all the holidays just keep coming around year after year. We celebrate them again and again and when they are over we just mark days until they come around again. It is like a merry-go-round.
The other way is to see the calendar as a spiral. When a holiday ends, they come around again next year but we are on a higher level of the spiral, directly above where we were last year.
The way to do that is to experience the holiday with all the depth and richness of the message. When Chanukah ends, we take the message with us in to our daily lives. With regards to Chanukah, the idea would be to continue to add light to the world all year round. To always be increasing the light as we did over the days of Chanukah. To be looking for opportunities to increase kindness.
If we can do all that, the light will just keep getting brighter and brighter.