By Sherry Ashworth
Talya stood in her living room. It was a total mess. Dad had been too busy to clear it up, because he’d had to visit Mum in hospital. And worst of all it was the first night of Chanukah - Talya’s favourite festival. Was there even going to be a Chanukah this year?
Talya heard footsteps. Grandma came into the living room and in her hand she had the old Chanukiah - the holder for the Chanukah candles. Grandma tutted at the mess and put the Chanukiah on the table near the window.
‘Do you remember how many candles we have, Talya?’ Grandma asked.
‘Yes,’ Talya said sadly. ‘There are nine altogether. One candle for each of the eight days of Chanukah and one special one for lighting them with.’
‘Good girl!’ Grandma said. ‘What is a saucepan doing under the table?’
Talya thought it was all very well to have a Chanukiah for the candles, but you needed more than just that for Chanukah.
Then Grandpa came in. ‘I have the prayer book,’ he said. ‘We can all say the blessings and sing the Chanukah song. Do you know the story of Chanukah, Talya?’
‘Yes,’ Talya said. ‘In the olden days the Greeks fought us, and afterwards, when we’d won, we went into our temple and found it was nearly all destroyed, and only a tiny, tiny bit of oil was left for our lamp. We cleared the mess and lit the oil in the lamp, and it was a miracle because it lasted eight whole days. That’s why we light one candle on the first night, then two on the second, and so on.’
Grandpa didn’t say anything. Instead he picked up Dad’s socks and took them to the kitchen with the saucepan.
Just as he was coming back the doorbell rang. Talya hoped it was Dad but no - it was Aunty Rachel and Uncle Marc with Coby, her younger cousin.
Aunty Rachel came into the living room and gave Talya a messy kiss on each cheek.
‘I have the matches for the candles,’ Aunty Rachel said. ‘Aye, this room is a mess! This newspaper is three days old! Let me put it in the recycling.’
Uncle Marc was grinning from ear to ear. ‘Talya - what’s the most important part of Chanukah? he asked.
‘Doughnuts!’ she replied.
Uncle Marc was carrying a big box of fat, sugary doughnuts. Talya’s mouth watered. She was beginning to feel a little bit better.
‘Why do we have doughnuts at Chanukah?' Uncle Marc asked her.
‘Because they’re made with oil, and the miracle of Chanukah is that the oil lasted for eight days!’
‘That’s right! Now let me make some room on the table for the doughnuts.’
‘Look what I’ve got!’ cried Coby.
Talya saw that he was carrying a large wooden dreidel - a spinning top with four sides, each with a different Hebrew letter on. They played with it every Chanukah because when the candles were lit, nobody was supposed to do any work and you had to play instead.
Talya looked around her. The room was tidier, and it was nice to have Grandma and Grandpa and Uncle Marc and Aunty Rachel and little Coby, but it still wasn’t the same as having her very own Mum and Dad with her. And there was still another important thing missing. They had a dreidel for spinning, some doughnuts for eating, some matches, a prayer book and the Chanukiah for holding the candles - but no candles!
Just then a key turned in the door and in walked Dad. ‘I have the candles! he announced. Talya ran to him and hugged him. ‘And that’s not all.’
Talya looked down the path. It was dusk so it was a moment before she saw her mother, and in her mother’s arms was a tiny little bundle.
‘Talya,’ said Mum, ‘meet your new baby brother!’
And so everyone was together, and they had everything they needed for Chanukah. Mum gave Dad the baby. She said the blessings and she lit the special candle. She handed it to Talya and said: ‘You’re old enough now to light the first Chanukah candle yourself!’
Talya's heart was full of happiness. She held the candle firmly and soon the first Chanukah candle was alight, burning merrily.
‘Happy Chanukah!’ everyone shouted