There is so much in the news lately that is awful or morose or grating. The big bad things and the small bad things wear you down, deflate you, and because there is an endless march of madness around the United States, around the whole world, it can leave you numb.

Let's see; in just the past few days we have had a wanna-be terrorist who tried to blow up the Port Authority bus terminal; we have anti-Israel rallies; we have a train derailment somewhere in the depths of New Jersey; we have a vile and contentious senatorial race in Alabama; we have more stories about pollution and tax increases and other depressing things.

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Well, Hanukkah is coming and isn't that supposed to cheer me up? I hope it does.


But meanwhile this evening there was The Parade. The Little Parade. The Little Parade That Could.

I was helping my younger daughter, a tenth grader taking an Honors English class, come up with ideas for her homework on a rather depressing book, the classic "All Quiet on the Western Front." Believe me, if you want to continue feeling down and dreary, this book will help. A horrifying look at soldiers during World War One, it is dense and full of death.

There we were, looking for symbolism in the pages of "All Quiet" when suddenly we heard slightly out-of-tune Mariachi music coming from outside, on the street. Why would we hear this music outside in Brooklyn at 10:30PM on a Monday night? What gives?

Well, there were about forty people and a few police cars going west along Avenue O, playing music and then chanting briefly, and they were holding up some decorative items. And there were some electric colored lights. And then I realized it was something leading up to Christmas, not Hanukkah. It was some Central American custom, for a group of people who were heading toward the local Roman Catholic church a few blocks away from where I live. This little parade, amateur and heartfelt, an ethnic tradition, was absolutely the cutest thing. It was precious. And within minutes the group had moved on.

But they had managed to buoy my spirits and remind that tomorrow would be the start of Hanukkah and our own fun traditions. Lighting candles. Spinning dreidels. Making latkes. Exchanging gifts. Singing songs and playing the piano along with them. 

There is so much out there in the world that is just a drag, and painful, and dreary. We have to grasp at the joy somehow and let it light our way.
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