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Hanukkah Candles on Christmas Eve

And the Light shineth in darkness: and the darkness did not comprehend it. — John 1:5

Throughout the night, the cold drew close,
And wrapped our home in shrouds of frost.
Within eight candles lent us light,
Returning to us all we’d lost.

Around us, all our village slept.
Our children safe, their breathing slow.
Eight candles gleamed beside our tree,
Their flames burned long, burned low.

Then all fell silent round my house.
The snow shone blue, the shadows, slate.
You could almost hear the planet turn.
I stood alone beside my gate.

Behind me, those I loved slept warm,
Protected by God’s endless grace.
Below me lay the village streets,
Wrapped in winter’s chill embrace.

The darkness waned, the morning loomed,
Within my house, the fire grew bright.
Outside I walked on fragile snow,
And prayed for greater light.

As a child, I’d lived in dreams of stars,
Of Peace on Earth –life’s golden seal–
And This Night seemed, of all those nights,
The one when all such dreams were real.

Tonight I know this is not so.
The world is not as we would wish,
But as we make it, day by day,
And this the mystery and the Gift.

The candles whisper of His Gift.
The stars reflect them high above.
The Gift is given to us again,
That we remember how to love.

for Justine Van der Leun — Mill Hill Drive, Southport, Connecticut, 1990

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • jwm December 24, 2017, 6:06 PM

    Misty eye and a lump in the throat for Christmas.
    Thank you, Gerard, that was wonderful. Blessings and a Merry Christmas to you and yours.


  • Bill Jones December 25, 2017, 12:06 AM


    • Jack December 25, 2021, 8:04 AM

      If that means what I think it means, you are in the wrong place for it, ‘Bill Jones’. But Merry Christmas to you anyway

  • Howard Nelson December 25, 2017, 2:07 PM

    @ Bill Jones
    Do you hate freedom?
    Do you prefer tyranny?
    Do you despise Jesus the Jew?
    May God bless you.

  • dhmosquito December 25, 2017, 5:57 PM

    Howard Nelson: may God bless YOU.

    And no, I am not Jewish, as if that should make a difference.

    Merry Christmas!


  • bbirdwell December 24, 2018, 5:18 PM

    Luke 2:8-14. I prefer the King James Version. Or you can watch Linus recite it…

  • ghostsniper December 25, 2018, 4:06 AM

    Happy New Year!

  • Phil in Englewood December 25, 2018, 5:50 AM

    Merry Christmas, Gerard! Thanks for sharing your fascinating life as a Phoenix with Nine Lives. And Merry Christmas to your Mom and Editor Olivia.

  • Terry December 24, 2019, 7:33 AM

    Merry Christmas to all!

  • ghostsniper December 24, 2020, 3:30 PM

    And to all a good night!

  • Terry December 24, 2020, 5:09 PM

    And for this Christmas eve I would really enjoy an eggnog with a stiff shot of brandy. But. But I quit drinking about fifteen years back. And I think if I took a drink as things are now I would not stop till I died.

    • Jack December 25, 2021, 8:08 AM

      I share your sentiment, Terry. God bless you and Merry Christmas.

  • jwm December 24, 2020, 5:09 PM

    Haven’t dropped a comment here, or anywhere in quite a while. Just lurking without much of anything to say.
    Thank you, Gerard, for the content these last weeks. It’s been the only thing I can stand to see on-line, and it has been a blessing.
    To all the regular gang here, a very Merry Christmas.
    God Bless.


  • ghostsniper December 24, 2020, 6:13 PM

    Was wondering where you’d been lately John.
    Don’t do that again.

  • Jewel December 24, 2020, 8:24 PM

    It’s interesting to me,the difference between my Catholic sense, and my former Protestant sense. In the latter, God approaches all with Good will toward men, magnanimous band universal to all, while in the former, He is seeking men of good will, which tells me he might find them or not. I think both are correct.

  • Anne December 24, 2020, 8:51 PM

    Dear Gerard:
    Thank you so much–more than you know–for this safe harbor. You keep the light on always and I am grateful. It helps me to find a safe shore.

    I am not a weak person, but I am an ordinary human being. I have learned that courage is never there permanently. It is something each human being must will for themself every minute of every day. You water and feed it every day. Each person needs to learn to manage courage–to train it and then to restrain it. To keep it ever prepared, but not always visible. Along the way we can only accomplish this with the caring guidance of wise masters of whom you are one.
    Thank you.
    Merry Christmas to all here. We will have a great new year together!

  • ghostsniper December 25, 2020, 4:36 AM

    I’m waiting for the one where the little kid falls into the ocean of presents.

  • Motus December 25, 2020, 4:37 AM


    Merry Christmas Gerard

  • Stargazer December 25, 2020, 5:34 AM

    Merry Christmas y’all.

  • jd December 25, 2020, 6:07 AM

    Thank you for all your beautiful words, Gerard.
    My best wishes for a blessed Christmas.

  • Snakepit Kansas December 25, 2020, 7:12 AM

    Fantastic group here. An always uplifting daily stop. Merry Christmas all.

  • Terry December 24, 2021, 5:03 PM

    Yes, a fantastic group here. There is one group member who commented above, who has reached the ultimate goal. I miss her, but know she is in the best place there could ever be.

    RIP my dear-

    Merry Christmas to all!

  • Anonymous December 24, 2021, 5:43 PM

    Harvester of eyes.
    look it up

    • ghostsniper December 24, 2022, 1:53 PM

      Don’t have to, know it by heart.
      Gonna play it right nah!

  • jwm December 24, 2021, 7:26 PM

    It’s been a long tough year. Still, there is much to be grateful for. Our host, and the regular gang of commenters here continue to provide a little sanity, a little humor, and a little beauty in a world that seriously needs these things. It all adds up to a little bit of shelter in the midst of the ongoing madness. When I count my blessings, you all are among them. God willing, we will see better days.
    A Merry Christmas to you all.


    • Mike Austin December 26, 2021, 2:22 AM

      To count the blessings—all undeserved I assure you—God has bestowed just this year would be impossible. Usually I have no idea what He is up to behind the scenes. And so very true: Gerard and his commenters “provide sanity, humor, beauty and shelter” in a world gone nuts and spooky.

      May the Child born yesterday be with all of us in the coming New Year. There will be surprises.

  • TmjUtah December 24, 2021, 8:31 PM

    Something wonderful, indeed.

    God bless us all, and goodnight.


    • Dirk December 25, 2021, 6:34 AM

      TMJ Utah,,,, M-1 or M-14? Either way awesome.


  • Hoss December 25, 2021, 4:07 AM

    Thank you again Gerard. Merry Christmas to all and a very happy New Year.

  • Dirk December 25, 2021, 6:19 AM

    Merry Christmas!
    Attended church last night, the walls didn’t shake or shudder,, the three Christmas songs, and three prayers were comfortable. Was surprised at the numbers of people I’ve known for thirty years, coming over and saying hello, Merry Christmas.

    I’ve always found it interesting how family life’s focus’s, redirect life’s directions, only to reach retirement and for me,,,, rekindle those old relationships. Was surprised at initial resentment to my retiring at 50 yrs old. When explained that I was just extremely lucky in life, investing, in life, the issues seem to melt away, we begin the dear friends dance again.

    Find great joy in hearing the similarities of old friends married life’s journeys. Some amazing,,, some heart breaking. Feel blessed to recognize that proof positive, Life Has Been The Lesson.

    Woke to many inch’s of fresh snow, we need it badly. A god thing

    Merry Christmas To All!

  • Dirk December 25, 2021, 7:00 AM

    We’ll, I’m amused. Wife’s A Nord, so I special ordered Norwegian earrings for Christmas, from my grand boys. Insisted she open em at 0500 this morning, she loves em. Told her why and just how pleased we were they arrived in time.

    Just discovered, made in Minnesota! Took the wind out of my sails. Being Nord she just laughs, says she loves em.

    So I used a marker crossed out Minnesota, fixed it. Sheeesh.

  • James ONeil December 25, 2021, 10:41 AM

    I slept late this Christmas morning, didn’t get up until around 7:40. None the less up here atop the world, I still beat the sun, the crack of dawn, today sun rise is 10:58.

    Blessed. Family all within walking (OK, 20 inches of snow on the ground, cross country skiing.) distance this Christmas.

    I didn’t put up a tree this year but I’ll, in a few minutes, be lighting a yule log in the wood stove, will wander over and ooo and aaah at the trees in my son’s house and my daughter’s house.

    Winter storm warning from the weather folks; 4 inches of snow expected today, 6 inches tonight, 3 more tomorrow. Don’t make no nevermind. No need to go nowhere. Food, warmth, family, backup plans for backup plans just in case.

    Yep, sitting on top of the world. Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas ( Including the various definitions, oldest and newest, of merry) and a prosperous New Year.

    So! For now, Goodbye or as it was said a while ago; God be with ye.

    • Mike Austin December 25, 2021, 12:07 PM
      • James ONeil December 25, 2021, 2:46 PM

        Why thanks Mike, I’m delighted! I just might pick up some, distill it off the peach, age the distillate it in oak for a year or so and definitely enjoy it. 😉

        Oh, and right back at ya, here’s a few beers Christmas present just for you! I do suggest drinking the Rogue Voodoo only in the privacy of your home. with the doors locked, the blinds down, computer & cell phone cameras buried under blankets, and never ever tell anyone you did though.


        • Mike Austin December 26, 2021, 2:35 AM

          Amazingly, the Rogue Voodoo sounded the least death inducing of those beers. And I loved the bacon on that maple bar—both being Gifts of the Magi. Maple bars and I go back a long way, at least 60 years. When I was a lad of ten or so I used to show up at a donut shop called “XX Donuts” on 82nd avenue in Portland. It was a local joint, a real mom and pop place. I knew when the maple bars would come out of the oven, and so would snag a few at just the right time. A child’s delight in a slice of Heaven.

          I would give my bottle of Peach Vodka for a few of those maple bars right now.

          • ghostsniper December 26, 2021, 4:28 AM

            Many years ago I went through the “Carlsberg Elephant Beer” phase.
            I don’t remember it fondly.

            • Mike Austin December 26, 2021, 6:03 AM

              I had to check the image of that beer, and—surprise!—I remembered it. At least, I remembered how the bottle looked before I drank it. Think I’ll give it a go again. I mean, what could go wrong?

            • Snakepit Kansas December 25, 2022, 7:08 AM

              As I recall, Elephant beer was pretty high in alcohol. It would knock your dick in the dirt. The only thing worse was Black Mamba Malt Liquor. Came in about a 24 oz. bottle. We called it “six-pack in a bottle”.

  • Terry December 24, 2022, 10:38 AM

    Merry Christmas to all and may Peace be with you and your’s.

  • Snakepit Kansas December 25, 2022, 7:10 AM

    Merry Christmas all!