“I don’t think we should let COVID stop us from celebrating a family tradition that means a lot to us,” Grandson Jake said in response to my question, “What would you think about having a Zoom Hanukkah this year?”

I had asked him and his sister on our FaceTime call.

Jake and Ally, who were relaxing after a day of virtual schooling, were not strangers to life changes from the virus. A lot of activities have been deleted from their active teenage lives, but maybe we could save Hanukkah.

Although neither of them are Jewish, they have celebrated Hanukkah with their Grandpa George and me almost every year of their lives. Their mom, my stepdaughter Amy, has been part of this holiday since her dad and I married and blended our families when she was nine.

After George passed away two years ago, we continued the tradition. But this COVID year changed that. The family would not be making the 45-minute drive from their house to mine. But some things will remain the same.

We always read Hanukkah stories from “The Power of Light,” by Issac Bashevis Singer. My well-used paperback copy of the book has been blessed with years of melted multi-colored candle wax and chocolate from Hanukkah gelt sticky fingers. I treasure that little book and wanted us all to read from it, so I needed to find one for them.

I was disappointed to discover my edition is out of print.

A charming young sales clerk at Pasadena’s Vroman’s Bookstore broke the news to me. She said she had fond memories herself of reading the stories as a child. When I told her my plight, she said if she still had her copy she would give it to me. I love that store. She also said she was pretty sure I could find a used copy online. And she was right. It’s on the way to Jake and Ally as I write this.

As pleased as I was to find the book, the best gift was the smiles of enthusiasm from the grandkids when I asked how they felt about a Zoom Hanukkah.

“Cool, we’re definitely in.”

Me too.

Email patriciabunin@sbcglobal.net follow her on Twitter @patriciabunin


By Kelley Wheeler

Kelley Wheeler is a Metro reporter covering political issues and general assignments. A second-generation journalist, worked with all major news outlet, she holds a vast expeirience. Kelley is a graduate of USC with degrees in journalism and English literature. She is a recipient of Yale’s Poynter Fellowship in Journalism.

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