Monday, December 07, 2009

Reader's Diary #551- Deborah Rochford-Kellerman: Hanukkah Candles

A few years ago, a friend and I found ourselves discussing Sarah McLachlan's Wintersong CD. Overall, he found the album way too depressing to be a Christmas album, with the gloomiest of the lot being a cover of Joni Mitchell's River, even more mournful than the original. Just because it mentions Christmas, he argued, doesn't make it a Christmas song. True, I supposed, but for many Christmas is a sad time of year. Usually they don't go caroling with their melancholy tunes, but such is McLachlan's style.

However, Deborah Rochford-Kellerman outdoes McLachlan. She is able to ruin not one, but two holidays in a single go!

In "Hanukkah Candles" the protagonist is of a dual-faith home: Christian and Jew. Like many homes around the world at this time of year, hers has a Christmas tree and a menorah. Confusing for the kids? Nah, they make it work. At least they used to. Enter the ghost of holiday grief.

I'm being more than a little facetious, I know. Rochford-Kellerman's story is bleak, no doubt about it, but it is well written. She manages to grab just the right images to capture the mood, and she uses the menorah to great effect. Our home just celebrates one holiday (Christmas), but there was enough I could relate to: the photos of husband and kids (it's not my fault my wife is always in charge of the camera!), and of course, thinking, perhaps overly nostalgically, of Christmases past. But I'm usually able to pick up the glass of eggnog and keep right on going. This Christmas will be even better, gosh darn it. Hopefully the woman in this story finds her own stupid grin.

(Did you write a post for Short Story Monday? If so, please leave a link in the comments below.)


Tea said...

I would love this story. There is a double dose, two holidays instead of one. I bet the story is really interesting.

Nothing at my blog. I love short stories. For awhile I'll just enjoy reading the other short stories in brief. I would like to find this one. Thanks!

John Mutford said...

Tea: You won't have to look too hard to find this one! In the body of this post, simply click on the title of the story and the link'll take you right there. Hope you enjoy!

J.S. Peyton said...

Here's my contribution to Short Story Monday:

It's on an excellent short story by Alice Munro, which I thought was just great. Of course, it's Munro so how could it not be? :)

Teddy Rose said...

This one sound really interesting. I come from a Jewish upbringing but don't practice it. I married a non-religious christen. We kind of celebrate X-mas. We send presents to his family and they send presents to us. We go to my brother's on X-mas day. He also married a christen. If Hanukkah happens to land on X-mas, we light the candles. I also exchange gifts with my neice. It's really just a nice excuse to get together and stuff ourselves silly.

I am behind again. I hope to start posting again for Short Story Monday soon.