I'm not even close to being the world's best Jew. If we were judged by our ability to adhere to every last rule, pray like an expert and debate religious issues like a scholar, I'm pretty sure I would have been kicked out of the club ages ago.
My own shortcomings notwithstanding, I still feel a certain pull when it comes to the traditions of Judaism. I love the sights, sounds and even the smells of each holiday, the way they make a house a home, and the way they pull families together whether they want to be there or not.
Last night, we lit the eighth Chanukah candle, and as you can see the Chanukiah* was fully lit. As much as I cherish the incredible glow on the eighth night, the warmth of so much light piercing the darkness of one of the longest nights of the year, a part of me is sad that this is it, that tonight, as the holiday silently draws to a close, we don't light anything, and winter's darkness will once again dominate our day-to-day reality.
And when that darkness seems all-pervasive, I'll think back to this very moment and try to remember what it felt like - the visuals, the temperature, the sounds of buzzing, happy kids, and even the smell of the house from yet another lousy-for-your-health but good-for-the-soul meal. That should be enough light to see us through the next few months.
Your turn: How do you keep the light on during times of darkness?
* The candelabra used for Chanukah is known as a Chanukiah, and has room for eight candles, plus an elevated candle known as the "shamash". It's separate and distinct from the menorah, which is six-plus-one and isn't used for this holiday.