This past December, I celebrated Hanukkah in a way I never imagined. Usually I just play dreidel about half of the days and say the prayers with a party every few years. However, this year we had a party outside because of COVID-19 and included our neighbors. We waited until the sun went down. My sister and I said the prayers while we lit five candles (it was the fifth night). The prayer is: Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha’olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tsivanu l’hadlik ner shel Hanukkah. This means: “Blessed are You, Our God, Ruler of the universe, who made us holy through Your commandments, and commanded us to kindle the Hanukkah lights.”
Our two neighbors lit a few of the candles. They’ve never celebrated Hanukkah before. We had a fire going because we were outside at night and it was cold. We had a fire pit because why not? The smoke kept following us, even if we walked to different places. It was like 2020 because you can’t escape the problems; all you can do is adapt and adjust. For example, I’ve seen my friends a lot less, and we have to meet outside.
My grandparents came for Hanukkah too, and we all stayed six feet apart and wore masks unless we were eating. We ate my dad’s homemade applesauce, and I loved it. Other people ate latkes, brisket, and matzoh ball soup. We also had s’mores with marshmallows roasted on the fire, which I’ve never done during Hanukkah before. To roast the marshmallows we used marshmallow forks that we got earlier for Hanukkah; the forks were brand new and open up like a telescope. All of the kids got clear plastic dreidels with gelt and candy bracelets inside. Our neighbors liked it. My grandfather showed us Jupiter and Saturn in the sky.
I never had a Hanukkah like this before. The pandemic has separated everybody from everybody else, except for immediate family or those you live with. Having our neighbors and grandparents over was a good change of pace; it felt like a mini community. We got to share our holiday with our neighbors, which was a first for them.