Tonight is the first night of the festival of lights. I remember learning about this holiday as a child and feeling the wonder every time we lit a candle. I remember the prayers. I remember going to the temple to pray. I remember being very thankful as a child for all the wonder and joy of the holiday. Grandpa (the man who raised me.. my adopted father as well as my biological grandfather) would spend hours grating potatoes to make latkas and Grandma (same deal) and I would cook other dishes. We'd sing. I'd get presents. It was wonderful.
This is the first year that I will celebrate this holiday but neither of them will be there to celebrate with me. There will be no phone call, no card, no meal. They will not get to see my son on his first Hanukkah. This is the first year that they are both gone. This is the first year that I'm an orphan, so to speak.
This will be the first year that no one will give me a present for the holiday and I find that fact upsetting. I know it's silly.. presents aren't that important. But... but but but. It's the first time that no one bothered to. My husband "doesn't believe in presents" (don't get me started. seriously. I can't even discuss it without getting upset) and his family thinks that ignoring my Jewish heritage will make it go away. I'm expected to celebrate Christmas with them, however.
My brother and his family will light the first candle tonight and I wish I could be there to see the children. I wish I could be there to teach them the prayer and what it means. I wish...
... Mostly, I think I wish I didn't feel so alone this year. Next year will be better. Next year my son will be older. Next year tragedy will be further away. Next year I will take my son to see his cousins and I will tell them all the stories of Hanukkah. Next year we'll make new memories.