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By Louise Laurence-Israëls

Light is important in my life. We only have a dormer window, too high for a little girl to look outside. We get up in the morning when a strip of light shines through that window and when the window looks black, Mama quickly closes the blackout curtain and that is the time I love, watching Mama.

Mama is so careful with the candles; she makes new tall candles from tiny leftover candle stumps. I can see her hands as she carefully places a candle on top of the flame, holding it until the wax melts on the bottom and glues onto the leftover candle. This process fascinates me. The candle makes the room festive and warm.

At the end of every afternoon, I cannot wait until it gets dark. Since I am little I do not realize that the electricity does not work anymore and that the candles are our only source of light at the end of a day.

Mama has an old shoebox full of candle stumps. Every night she pulls the box out of the cupboard, and I wonder what she is going to do this time. We all stare into the flame and I hope that Mama will let me stay up for a little while longer.

How strange it is to see now that you can flip a switch to get light in your room. We miss the candles, but Mama keeps her box with leftovers carefully in a safe place. On stormy nights when the electric lamps flicker, we will have candlelight again.

I love the holiday Chanukkah, especially on the eighth day when we light eight candles, and the shammus*: nine flames—what a wealth.

Even today I have a shoebox in our cupboard, full of candle stumps. You never know when you will need light.

* The shammus, or helper candle, is used to light the other eight Chanukkah candles.

©2011, Louise Lawrence-Israëls. The text, images, and audio and video clips on this website are available for limited non-commercial, educational, and personal use only, or for fair use as defined in the United States copyright laws.