Remembering the Light


Monday Morning Musings:


“I have forgotten that dark Berlin winter.

I will not forget the light of the horses.”

–from Pablo Neruda, “Horses.” 


Winter has its own beauty–

bright holiday baubles and candle light

glowing flickers within window frames

stars twinkling in December night,

their glow a memory from the past


and we remember, too, the past

celebrations in other places with people now gone

but stop we say, we are here, and now

with family and friends gathered together

we cook, we open gifts, we light the candles


first night

second night

each night one added

until finally, eight candles burn

and if there is no miracle, at least there is light


My mother does not remember–

how many candles? Ten? she asks.

But she sings along in Yiddish with the rabbi,

songs from her childhood

songs of another world, now gone.


We walk in twilight through city streets

winter here, a different kind of beauty

of lines, reflections, and angles

people on holiday time without the frenzy–

the train at rush hour, not so crowded.

Philadelphia December Cityscape, Merril D. Smith, 2019

Philadelphia, Lines, Angles, and Reflections


Winter has its own allure–

dramatic grey clouds and stark, elegant branches.

We drink mulled wine and eat Christmas cookies,

we watch a show of space exploration and new worlds–

love and war the constants of human experience.


Reflections at Red Bank Battlefield, December 2019.


Winter holds its secrets tight–

rising behind the clouds, the sun blazes and the moon shimmers,

beneath the snow, green sprouts watch and wait

beyond the darkness, comes the prancing light of horses,

carrying yesterday into tomorrow, and I remember


the light.


Older daughter made this ornament for me.


Last night we watched a movie on Amazon Prime called Remembrance (original title: Die verlorene Zeit or The Lost Time) 2011. It’s loosely based on a true story of a couple who meet and fall in love in Auschwitz. He’s a Polish Christian, and she’s a German Jew. He smuggles photographs out of the camp, and he helps her escape. The movie toggles back and forth between her remembering the 1940s and the present (set in the 1970s.)  It seemed a fitting movie for the last night of Hanukkah–and I suppose their escape was a bit of miracle, too.

We’re also nearing the end of The Expanse.

48 thoughts on “Remembering the Light

  1. Your musings are a festival of light. The wintry photographs are lovely if stark. Have a happy holiday and I hope you don’t get any of the nastiness that’s flicking around at the moment. Here too. Sad world.

    • Thank you. Yes, there is so much nastiness–and horror and fear right now. I felt compelled to shine some light, and to display the Hanukkah lights in a window.

      It is so grey and dreary here this morning. I can’t get myself moving to do anything! I’m still in my bathrobe, skipped the gym, and I’m looking at my to-do list . . .

      • We must have your light here. I wish I could send you some. Everything seems mixed up and ugly at present. I don’t know what or who to have faith in, just want to curl up and wait for it to end.
        We have been invited to spend the New Year celebration with a neighbour/farmer and we’ve turned it down. It was a kind offer, but the idea makes me feel ill. Eating rich food, drinking too much too late into the night and being jolly with people we have nothing in common with fills me with horror.

      • Well, it was nice for them to invite you. Usually we get together with some old friends and eat Chinese food–very low key. This year, they’re all away. I think we might go to the movies in the afternoon, and then maybe make fondu for dinner. I don’t know if I’ll make it till midnight, except that people start shooting off fireworks and making a lot of noise that will wake me if I do go to bed.

      • Here it’s eating and drinking from late evening so everybody is still at table at midnight when the champagne starts. My system can’t cope with that. A low key meal with friends would be pleasant, but that’s not possible here. A film might be good.

      • Husband is always up early, around 5am and has difficulty staying awake after about 10pm. though neither of us go to sleep very early and I often lie awake for hours in the night. Eating other people’s/restaurant food makes me ill though, as it’s usually very rich, not what I make at home, and it goes on too long.

      • On a typical day I’m usually up between 5 and 5:30 AM, and in bed by about 9:30, though I usually read for awhile. Husband has bizarro sleep habits, so he often takes a long nap during the day, or he might fall asleep downstairs watching TV. 😉 Well, when we get our transporter working and get together, we will have a light meal that’s not too rich. Maybe afternoon tea, so we’re all awake. 😉

      • It sounds very much like our household in the sense that Husband also has a nap in the afternoon and falls asleep in the evening, then wakes up arounf 10.00pm when we go out for a walk, we both read until about 11.30 he goes to sleep and I often don’t until he gets up around 5.00. Then I sleep until about 8.00. Put both our households together and you’re right, there’s probably a short window at the end of the morning when we’d all be awake at the same time!

  2. The movie sounds perfect for last night. I put my electric menorah in the window, too. I almost burned down the house with the candles this year. I put my menorah up high away from the cats and didn’t think about the wooden shelf ABOVE. The gardener walked into the room and saw what was going on and saved the day. Yes, it had started to burn a hole above. So light has its dangers? Not a metaphor I’m interested in hah.
    I’m sorry your mom couldn’t remember the # of candles, but it’s lovely that she still remembers music. Happy Hanukkah. Happy New Year. xo

    • We always watch the candles to make sure the cats don’t go near–this year, they ignored them. I guess we usually light them after the boys have had dinner, so they’ve settled down a bit. 🙂 I’m glad the gardener saw what was going on before a fire started. Yikes!
      I don’t think Hanukkah was a very big celebration when my mom was growing up–and she’s not religious. I shouldn’t make it sound like her mind is totally gone. She just doesn’t remember very well, and sometimes she says totally looney things in the midst of talking about something.

  3. What a beautiful and festive post, Merril. Thank you for sharing these special moments with us. The joy reflected in the faces of your family is lovely. I captured a special moment on video as my mother opened a gift from me. I shared it on my author FB page, but I don’t know how to put it in WordPress. I need to find the best way to preserve the video. I think the moment demonstrates the calming effect music has on Alzheimer’s patients. Happy New Year to you and your family.

  4. May the menorah and the story of it continue to shine brightly in this troubled world Merril and bring its beautiful light into the world. It clearly does – your photos are lovely and the epitome of light.

    A blessed 2020 to you and family .. may 2020 bring you plenty plenty 🙂

  5. Beautiful musings, as always. I love this: “Winter holds its secrets tight–” and what follows. It does, doesn’t it? I don’t think I realized that before. How was The Expanse? That popped up as a recommendation for me on Netflix.

    • The winter has its own beauty and winter holds its secrets tight are the lines that came to me first. 🙂
      I didn’t know The Expanse was on Netflix. We love it. It started out on the SYFY channel, and they canceled it, but Amazon bought it and continued it. You have to pay attention because there are different worlds/factions.

  6. Lovely, lovely, lovely. As a holiday post should be. I had wanted to check out Remembrance, then forgot about it. Sigh. Guess I’ll officially add it to the list.

  7. I can’t decide if the glow is emanating from your beautiful family photos or from your menorah. I’m pretty sure the answer is from both! ❤️🔥 Beautiful musings as always. When I drop by for a visit, I know I’ll be leaving with a smile. I loved the small but darling details of your family gatherings… merry Santa bottle topper and delightful “sour cream” and “apple sauce” serving spoons. Very cute! Thank you for allowing me to peek into your family celebrations. Your personal touches makes me feel at home. Happy New Year, Merril! 🎊🎉🎏

    • What a sweet comment! Thank you dear Rose. The sour cream and applesauce spoons and dishes were for my daughter from her best friend. I thought they were adorable. The Santa bottle topper is hers, too. 😉 But the menorahs with the eight candles are mine. Wishing you a very happy new year! ❤

  8. I’m beginning to appreciate the beauty of winter more as I read posts such as yours. Yes it’s harsh, but there is a light in that harshness. And the warmth is seen inside, as in your lovely photos of family celebration and joy.

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