by Caroline

My kids are fascinated by Hanukkah. Everything about the holiday, from its length, to the rituals, the candles and the games and songs, delights them. Eli checked a Hanukkah book out of the library and is working on composing a new Hanukkah song. Meanwhile, although I haven’t fried up any latkes, I’ve found a way to spin our new favorite baked good as a sort-of Hanukkah treat. We share Jewish holidays and traditions with many close friends, and tonight, at a friends’ house for dinner, they’ll get their first chance this year to light the menorah.

At home, we’ve been gathering around our own seasonal candles: the Advent wreath. Somehow we’d gotten out of the habit of candle lit dinners last summer (not only because we had a three year-old living with us, but because early, sunlit summer dinners make candles seem irrelevant), and forgot to bring them back this fall. But I’ll make sure to retain the candles this winter even after I pack away the Advent wreath.

I make one similar to the kind my mom has created for as long as I can remember: a shallow pottery bowl arranged with evergreens and four candles. Mine uses eucalyptus and rosemary from the backyard, and since I couldn’t find nice tapers, I bought tall beeswax votives from the market. Mine is a bit messy and haphazard, but it serves its purpose well. Each night in the four weeks leading up to Christmas, we gather at the table, pause before our meal, and light a candle, adding another one each Sunday. It’s a lovely moment of calm at the close of the day, a nice reminder to slow down.