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By Tuesday, December 30, 2008 ,

Hanukah

The last night of Hanukah has come and gone for this year.  Somehow, even though I wasn't with my family for the entire time or with all of my family this Hanukah was very special.  

It started with preparing a special box for my "little" sister who is living in Israel while going to school.  This year has been challenging for me because she is so far away and she had been so close last year.  Last year I got to see her about once a month and that was so wonderful.  It was fun to have my sister close enough to see.  Now, I get to see her on Skype and that's great... but just not the same.  So, for Hanukah I got 8 little presents together for her.  Wrapped them up with brown paper and the number of the night she should open them up.  Then, shipped it off to her and 10 days later she got it.  Shipping presents over seas is hard because you've got to fill out a customs form that gets pasted right on the outside of the package stating what's inside.  Kinda ruins the surprise, but I thought I'd covered my bases by letting Shawna know about the customs form and telling her "NOT to look at it!"  Well, she thought she would go one step further and ask the woman at the post-office to black out the label before she handed over the package.  But Shawna is still working on her Hebrew skills and the lady misunderstood her.  So her response when Shawna asked her to cover up the label was, "Oh yes, the t-shirt and candy?"  And my cover was blown, except I took a risk and didn't list quite everything on the customs form so... there were still a few surprises.  Shawna had fun opening one up each night and telling me on Skype what she got.  

The first 4 nights of Hanukah Lukas and I spent with my parents and brother up in Arcata.  We light candles, sang songs and gorged ourselves on latkes.  Then Lukas and I headed back to Santa Cruz to visit with his relative who had come into town for Christmas.  

The sixth and seventh nights of Hanukah I light candles with my family via Skype.  We sang songs together, seeing each other in our respective computer screens.  Laughing as the delay of the internet echoed our voices.  To be able to feel so close and yet be far away is amazing.  My dad enjoys marveling at the capabilities of the time that we live in.  

On the eighth night of Hanukah just as I was getting the candles ready for the menorah the power went out.  It was amazingly dark in the immediate seconds before my eyes started to adjust to the darkness.  How fitting, on the darkest night of Hanukah when the moon is new that it should be made even darker right before we were going to bring in the greatest light.  So in this great darkness we light the candles for the last night bringing in such a great glow.  Lukas and I got a couple tupperware contains and had a blast singing Hanukah songs and banging along on the tupperware.  And then my family called.  I couldn't get on Skype because of the loss of power, but they conferenced me in.  My brother was driving back to San Jose, they had my sister on the line at 5am in Israel and my parents were home.  Sitting in the dark I sang our favorite Hanukah song with my entire family.  Maybe our timing was a bit off due to delays on the phone line, but we sang our hearts out.  That's what Hanukah is to me - family.  

{ps. check out the Hanukah links to learn more about the holiday.}

{pps. I guess I must apologize for not posting daily through the alphabet.  Though I haven't been writing daily, this has been a great exercise for me and I will continue through the rest of the letters.}

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