Fire It Up
Ask the Organizer by Devora Farrell
As we all settle into Winter hibernation – wait, what? Haven’t we all been doing that for most of the past year? Ah, but this is different…
Chanukah’s coming up. Time to get ready!
The children’s artwork is starting to trickle in. Hang it up right away to start setting the mood. What? No kids in your home? What about neighbors? Do they have children to lend? What a feeling of special connectedness when they see their crafts displayed (photos of said art, magneted on the fridge, serve the same purpose, especially if you also take selfies next to them. Personally, I am wonderfully grateful to not only be supplied by my own grandchildren (Hello, Schwartz family!) but by my landlord’s adorable children as well (Hello, Butrimovitz family!)). Maybe you’re inspired to create your own décor. Lots of DIY materials and guidance are available to help you on your way. However you choose to celebrate, it’s a true moodbooster to plan things to look forward to.
We’ll start with the nuts and bolts of menorahs (insert groan here). With their glitter, bits of tissue paper, and water-soluble paint, the traditional wood and bolts child-created versions are quite fragile and need to be cleaned carefully. Gently and precisely, scrape waxy residue away with toothpicks. Or do nothing, other than melting this year’s candles right on top of last year’s melted wax. Unless you are a neat-freak like me.
And now, another one of my familiar bulleted lists of light-related helpful (I hope) hints:
- If menorah is metal, boiling water poured over wax or oil drips can easily remove it (dispose of appropriately) UNLESS the menorah is held together by any substance that may melt in water – I learned this the hard way. The menorah was metal, the glue was not
- Store candles where the temperature is relatively stable (as opposed to packing them away in my “Winter” bin and storing it in the garage (!) – instead of looking like lower-case “l’s,” the candles curled into “c’s.” My family didn’t believe me that curved candles were trendy that year. Lesson learned
- Inventory and restock any finished or missing parts for next Chanukah
- If using oil, dispose of all remaining after the holiday and buy fresh each year (oil typically goes rancid if opened and stored for that long – not a lovely fragrance)
- It’s truly fine to purchase prefilled ready-to-go oil candle cups, rather than shear the sheep/grow the cotton, spin the wool/comb the fibers, braid it, measure and cut it into equal lengths (and mark it with a “B”), wax it for easier ignition, prepare same-sized thin rounds of hole-in-the-middle-punched cork to fit the oil cups, grow the olives…help! I can’t stop! If going the ready-made route, let it enhance your celebration, without even one mililiter of guilt. Same with pre-cut fruits and vegetables (but don’t light them). Of course, sous-chef’ed plants/fruits cost more money. It also shortens the To Do List, giving back time to do anything else. Time is more valuable than stuff.
- I’ve been hearing suggestions for cleaning scorched glass oil bowls, but haven’t had success yet. Please share your winning tip
- Place a charged fire extinguisher right under the surface where the menorah will sit
- Store any and all possibly – flammable items far away
- Keep matches out of reach of curious family members
- If using matches, make sure they are not made in China or India, where young children are routinely enslaved (their hands are smaller) to dip the wooden/cardboard sticks into the igniting fluid. Don’t even get me started on fast-fashion worker-exploitation
- Since part of the mitzvah of lighting the menorah strongly encourages sitting and gazing at the flames for about a half-hour, why not stretch that time (board games, charades, dreidel, music, conversation, latkes and donuts) to avoid leaving the burning candles unsupervised
- Sterling/925 silver menorahs can be polished with a paste of baking soda and lemon juice (secondhand information) or by being dipped in a large pot of boiling water (part-by-part, if necessary) after a sheet of aluminum foil and baking soda or salt have been added to the water. No, it won’t damage the silver, according to my father, ob”m, a polymer and metals scientist. After dipping, dry with clean, soft cloth. Ta-da!
- Prevent tarnish in the first place by wrapping sterling tightly and completely with plastic wrap (I am looking for a non-plastic solution) when not in use
As far as latkes and sufganiot (doughnuts), either make them yourself, buy them frozen, or buy them fresh from a local purveyor. Ultimately, Chanukah is a time for celebration, chocolate gelt (coins), singing, and focusing on children and their teachers in gratitude, whether in person or in quarantine.
Really, Chanukah (and, well, everyday), is a great time to grow your relationship with Hashem.
Do I smell frying onions?
Great Chanukah gift idea: an organized playroom and home office! Now, that would be appreciated (No, not just by me). Video or phone-conferenced organizing/coaching is a thing. And, judging by client feedback, it’s different than in person, but still effective when done professionally (can you tell that I just finished a course on Virtual Organizing?). Limited hours happily available. Mrs. Devora Farrell at (973) 919-7761 or firstname.lastname@example.org