blogger’s ride – day 3
Tuesday December 17, 2019
I am still in Chicago, the next day, after having missed my train last night. Inside the station, both last night, and this morning, many passengers are walking around in bright and colorful, mostly combinations of white, red and green holiday pajamas. Yes, entire families in matching jammies, not only the children. A leisurely way to travel to be sure; yet, it is cold outside – they must have jackets. It would be beyond the scope of my imagination to picture myself walking around the train station in white flannel jammies with small blue Mogen David (stars), dreidals, and menorot (plural of menorah) pictured in the design of my casual-ware. Even as I write, a family in green with matching holiday designs walks by me as I sit on a bench, much closer to the kiosk than last night when I was waiting for the train.
As far as Chanukah goes, it is more than lighting eight candles on the menorah, and giving and receiving presents. Wake up out of winter wonderland, and smell the latkes. Up until recently, there was no tradition of receiving presents, and certainly not under the Chanukah bush. The holiday is about the triumph of light over darkness, of freedom over persecution, of victory over defeat. A small group of Jewish warriors, who were zealous for the Torah defeated the invading Syrian empire, and reclaimed the Beis HaMikdash (Temple). One small cruze of oil was found to light the seven-candled menorah in the Temple; normally, it would only last for one day; however, that tiny cruze of oil lasted for eight days.
O.k. I began to surmise that there was something more to the picture, when all the holiday goers in their Christmas pajamas, with two conductors ringing bells in front of a long line of joyous revellers began to move through the Great Hall, where I am seated on one of the many long benches here. They’re taking an hour-long ride called the Polar Express. Need I say any more? Certainly, this explains everything. The historic Polar Express is running again, with all of the holiday trimmings. Chanukah seems tame, compared to this. And, so it should be; a reflective, yet, joyous holiday; one best spent, according to my humble opinion, watching the candles burn each and every night. Five more hours, and I’ll be onboard my Amtrak train, a little closer to making it on time for the first night of Chanukah. H’Shem willing.