Ever since I can remember, the tradition of Chanukah centered around the menorah at my grandmother, Mimi's flat while growing up in London.
I loved it when Mimi would say the blessings then light the candles. What made Mimi's menorah special was because, when wound up, it played the traditional song of Chanukah "Rock of Ages" - "Ma'oz Tzur". I never really remember all the words but both my Mother and Grandmother would go into a type of trance singing chorus after chorus until the song slowed down to a single, dwindling, plucked note.
I also love the Manischewitz wine - when "traditions" got boring, a few more sips for God & angels & I was a happy little camper among predominantly septuagenarians.
When I started a family of my own, Mimi passed her menorah on to me. It is certainly one of my most treasured gifts. It still remains seasoned like a good frying pan, imbued with decades of "mishpaha" - family. "Naches" - Joy. Love. Togetherness. Tradition.
As I lit the candle this evening, I again felt myself transported back to a place in time where the walk to the front door through the garden was a siren-like temptation of heady aromas from slow, simmering soul foods, the sounds of long departed family friends, laughing & arguing, a time when I could afford to always eat the last matzo balls, or brisket, piece of fresher than fresh challah bread or Mimi's magnificent apple strudel.
I hope inadvertently, I may have stumbled over a few traditions that our children will one day recall with the same warmth & affection that I do.
I miss Mimi so much, but never as much as over these holidays, which she loved so very much.
Wishing everyone happiness as religions of the world converge at this time of the year.