A “seasonal” poem courtesy of my New Yorker friend Heather
© Heather Ebner 2014
The First Night of Chanukkah
By Heather L Ebner
‘Twas the first night of Chanukah, here in New York
And the family, all seated, had just grabbed their forks.
The table was laid with a wonderous feast,
Roast chicken and latkes for 20 at least.
Oh the scents, as they wafted throughout the whole house
Made every mouth water, including the mouse.
With Dad at the head, and I, left of him
Our plates piled high, just about to dig in,
When, “WAIT!” Bubbe scolded, “Oy vey, what a scandal.”
“You can’t all eat yet, we must first light the candles!”
“She does have a point,” Dad begrudgingly grumbled.
“But let’s make this quick,” to the front room he mumbled.
The rest of us followed him falsely with zeal,
In the hopes that we’d sooner get back to our meal.
Around the menorah, we all reassembled
And watched as the Shamas flame flickered and trembled.
Inspired to reverence by Bubbe’s stern stare,
I offered to read all the Channukah prayers
But as I began to “Baruch Adonai….”
A thunderous sound seemed to come from the sky.
Away to the front door, we made a mad dash
Threw on the porch lights and heard the loud crash.
There in the yard, to our wondr’ing surprise,
was a man – and eight pairs of small, bright blinking eyes
He had a thick beard and a blue velvet coat
And a warm silver scarf wrapped snug round his throat.
He wore fur-topped boots and the cap on his head
embroidered in Hebrew with fine silver thread.
I looked and I counted – in the wintery freeze –
Hitched up to his sled were eight camels – on skis?!
With a great swirl of sparkle and dust from the East
Pulled the reins, and he called to each Magical beast.
“Whoa! Moishe, Whoa! Mitzvah, Whoa! Bupkes and Shmutz
Shlemiel and Shmegeggi, Matzoh and Putz!”
They slid to a halt as their names were called out,
Then the great man stepped down, stretched his back, looked about:
“What a shlep!” said this stranger, as Bubbe looked wary,
but I knew it at once: This was Hanukkah Harry!
He was fatter than Santa
And surprisingly taller,
But the gifts in his bag were a little bit smaller.
For our family of nine
There were seventy two
Each brilliantly wrapped up in silver and blue
Eight presents each,
for eight crazy nights
to delight and remind us of miracle lights.
He gathered our presents with a cough and a wheeze
Nearly blew out the candles with his trumpeting sneeze
He thumbed toward the camels all snacking away,
“Asthma” he shrugged, “I’m allergic to hay.”
Then he set to his work, leaving Channukah gelt,
Only pausing to snack on the chocolates himself.
Til at last, he seemed pleased that each little box
(Inevitably filled up with pencils or socks)
Was displayed with a gift card, ribbon and bow
All waiting there, neatly aligned in a row.
Then he placed a long finger inside of his ear
And he rumbled the back of his throat to clear it
Then he called to each Camel as he took up his seat
Programmed the SATNAV, not skipping a beat.
“I’m starving,” Dad whispered “Is he finished, you think?”
And I’m sure the man heard him, I swear that he winked.
Then he backed up his sleigh and he started to shout,
“Go ahead eat, I don’t want I should put you out!”
Then the camels on skis, zipped aloft, out of sight
And our candles they glowed a bit longer that night.
But before he was gone, he waved with his yarmulke
“Merry Maccabee Miracle and to all… a good Channukah!”