Lighting a Candle- For Hope. For Equality. For Justice. For Kindness. For Reason. For Children’s Health. For Access. For Each Other.

I’m getting to this post a little late tonight. There is political commentary, which I don’t usually tackle so directly in this blog. If you prefer not to read it, that’s your choice. If you care to read it and either agree or disagree, that’s valuable, too. Next time you check in I’ll be posting about kids and books and community.


Tonight is the first night of Chanukah, the festival of lights. We gathered around the table and lit two candles together in memory of a time when things worked out better than we’d hoped. The flames were tentative at first, hesitant to catch. Tiny lights began almost transparent, gradually gaining strength and substance. Finally they stopped flickering and stood tall. As is tradition, we set the menorah in front of the window so others could see the light of our celebration.

Indeed there was an extra little light shining tonight as the Alabama Senate race came to a close. Though that candle sputtered through the weeks of the campaign,and felt ready to gutter out entirely, it stayed lit. Now it’s flame glimmers across the entire country.¬† I am heartened by two main things:

  • Voter turnout significantly exceeded expectations. History is made and written by those who show up. Today’s turnout at the polls (and following along from across the country) suggests that more Americans are awake. They recognized a crucial moment in our nation’s existence and showed up.
  • People chose decency over bigotry and disregard for others. People chose the constitution and the law over someone who repeatedly showed disdain for it while claiming to support it. And in some cases, people chose these things over party despite potential political ramifications.

But the light is a candle. It will flicker in a draft. It sometimes burns brightly but too fast, then burns itself out before a bigger blaze is set.

This flame needs to be protected and nurtured. One candle is pretty, but group them together and they become mesmerizing.

Let’s all light the candles of our hearts from today’s shamish. Then let’s recognize the other vital issues close to our own hearts and be on fire about them.

Are you fired up about equal access for all people to the internet because you believe that censorship can look like keeping books off the shelf, but also like making it more difficult to access some information and tools than others according to the priorities of…well who knows? Maybe net neutrality is your issue. If so, game on! The vote is this week.

Are you bound and determined to choose kind in this climate of chirping and disrespect? I Wonder. Do you believe that we have more in common than what divides us and that treating everyone with human decency and a touch of kindness isn’t just good politics, it’s a good way to live in the world? Maybe you care about a cluster of issues like tearing down artificial walls instead of building physical ones. Of letting people into our lives and communities instead of banning them. One immigrant’s choice does not reflect all, or most, or even many. Thinking of cake? Maybe you believe we shouldn’t codify discrimination in the guise of someone else’s personal freedom. Whatever you believe, let your leaders know. Decisions are happening now. Better yet, I want to be in the room where it happens. Maybe it’s time to step into leadership officially or unofficially.

Are you burning up over the idea that we’re about to leave nearly 9 million children, through no fault of their own, without health insurance? If you’re a teacher or a parent, you care about kids. It’s what you do. No doubt you support the kids close to your life in many ways. This week, reach out and speak for the millions who may not be able to see a doctor, who may miss more school, who will suffer if we don’t. Speak up for CHIP and for children.

Are you steamed that powerful men are working behind closed doors to change American life in profound ways–ways that far exceed the economic effects? Does it bother you that fundamental issues of personal freedom and access to healthcare are being pushed through a tax bill because a straight up vote on its ‘merits’ has repeatedly failed? Do you mind that economic systems are being designed by the powerful to benefit the powerful at the expense of the less privileged? And to add insult to injury–or perhaps graver injury to the initial insult–those same powerful people are already announcing that in order to recoup the financial losses created by this scheme, more, drastic cuts will need to be made in the near future to the parts of the system that were designed to help those already struggling at the bottom.¬† My sense of fairness has been scorched.

…Like much of California. My hopes have often felt drowned–flooded with storm water. Left in the dark for months like Puerto Rico after two major hurricanes. Yet the agency tasked with protecting our air and water is being dismantled from within, denying science and undermining efforts to mitigate the contributing factors and even the effects of climate change. My head is a raging wildfire some days.

And there is plenty more. But no Moore.

Tonight we lit the first candle for hope. Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow we’ll light another for access, for equality, for justice, for kindness, for children’s health, for reason, for each other. Chanukah is eight days, but the light of our hope needs, miraculously, to last longer than we’ve dared to believe. With each candle, each issue we rally to, the light will shine brighter.

Until the world feels the heat.

Add your light to the world.


Look Who’s Making the Cupcakes Now

When my oldest was in preschool, I was the mom who made homemade cookies for his class on every holiday. They were the kind you have to roll out. Cut. Bake. Then frost with tinted icing one by one. Even though I was working, it felt important to make something to show him he was loved.

My second son came along and maybe those frosted cookies were just sprinkled with the same color sugar. It saved time.

By the time my oldest was in first grade, I was teaching, back in grad school, and somehow found myself PTO co-president halfway through the year. Schoolwork happened after the kids went to bed. And PTO emails often happened at odd hours of the night (or was it morning by then?).

Needless to say, there were no more cookies for school on holidays.

Sorry kiddo.

But there were still the hastily baked birthday cupcakes to share with teammates on their birthdays. Those cupcakes lasted into middle school.

This week I have a (kind of big) birthday.

Tonight at dinner while we were coordinating the details of who’s heading to practice, who’s studying for which chemistry test, and what’s for dinner tomorrow, my husband reminded the oldest about making “cupcakes for Mom to bring to work.” And after a flurry of post-dinner cleanup and packing for hockey off went my husband and youngest leaving Daniel and I in the kitchen.

Daniel, as he is wont to do, noticed something about the hand mixer that none of the rest of us ever have. He observed in fascination. I smiled.

He measured and mixed. He ladled the batter into the cupcake tins and tucked them in the oven. I worked on a tomato sauce nearby.

I watched him with a mother’s awe, remembering the round baby cheeks, soft toddler hands, and playful boyish face I kissed as I made cookies and cupcakes for all those holidays. Now he’s lean, with chiseled features. He knows his way around the oven without my help.

So while I’m feeling my new age, I saw tonight a glimpse of the love that has filled the years. I was filled by something more than pride as I looked up at my son.

Plus, it was fun to spend an hour together in the kitchen. Most days we’re heading in opposite directions. Lately, my love is shown through asking about chemistry with interest (though it’s so foreign I don’t know how I ever made it into organic chem).

Cupcakes. What a treat!