“Do you know what holiday we’re celebrating?” I asked my mother.

“Does it matter?” she replied.

“Are you having fun, Mom?”

“Oh yes,” she responded with a warm smile.

“Then it doesn’t matter.”

Mom, gone three years now, was in her late nineties when we had that conversation.

Hanukkah and Christmas were crossing paths that year and my Jewish mother was observing the holidays in the Christian retirement home where she lived. In a sitting room, festooned with garlands of holly and a small artificial lighted tree as the table centerpiece, we were celebrating Hanukkah following the home’s Christmas dinner.

I had brought the menorah that Mom used for years in her own home, and blue and white candles, one for each of the eight nights plus the shammas, the helper candle that sits elevated on the nine-pronged candelabra, and is lit first and used to light the other candles.

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