On a Dark Night by Ayana Touval

December 6, 2014 § 4 Comments

Continuing Brevity‘s Holiday Smile contest memories

hannukahWhen I was twelve years old in the 1950’s I lived in a (then) small town in Israel called Ramat Gan. We kids were free to roam the streets long after the sun had set over the sea.

One late December evening, while strolling through a side road, we were struck by an awesome sight. Countless candles twinkled and shimmered in a big window. They were all attached to a live Christmas tree. It was a beautifully decorated fir whose branches were covered with make believe-snow. We were transfixed by the unusual sight of what we had seen before only in movies. We sat on the stone fence in front of the house, marveling at the tree. There was movement in the house. People were walking and sipping drinks and then a couple exited the front door. They noticed us sitting on the fence and stopped for a second. We heard the woman whispering something to her companion and watched her turn back indoors. After a short while we saw her shuffling around the tree and take off some candles. She then came out again and approached us, carrying a little tray with candles and some sweets.

“Happy Chanukah,” she said in Hebrew with a clearly American accent. And while we searched our meager foreign vocabulary, one of us rose to the occasion and boldly said, “Merry Christmas.”

We ate the sweets and sat there till the candles burned out. We left the little tray at the door step and walked slowly back home. We were in a quiet and meditative mood. Not only did we see that fantastic tree and eat some delicious cookies, but turned out we also had an English speaker among us!

Ayana Touvalwas born in Zagreb (then Yugoslavia) and grew up in Israel.  She has been teaching mathematics all her life, self-published a short collection under the name Sweet Memories from Bitter Times, and lives in North Bethesda, MD.


We encourage readers to use Amazon Smile to help Brevity pay authors and grow stronger. Continue to purchase books from your local independent bookseller, if you are lucky enough to have one nearby, but please channel other Amazon holiday shopping through the Amazon Smile Brevity Link: (it doesn’t cost you a cent) and we get a few pennies on every purchase. You can bookmark the link and make it your permanent Amazon entryway, which would really make us smile

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