So every woman and her dog are going to be writing about Christmas and the like this week.
I promised myself that I would not fall into this trap. I'd offer up something ribald and mirthful on a completely different topic. Such as house plants. Or the halachic meaning of forgetting to complete one's tax return. Or ask rabbinic advice on how to deal with a feral and quite frankly vicious rescue cat. I know it's probably against Jewish laws on animal cruelty, but every day I pray she will do a runner and decide to live with the squirrel that she terrorises. But no, two years on, she is still here, scratching and clawing her way into the family bed and hissing like that girl in Poltergeist.
However, despite my best intentions, I feel the need to allude to Chanucah, Christmas and the like, in relation to miracles. Because this last month, during the festival of regeneration that has segued nicely into the National Holiday of John Lewis Adverts, I have seen miracles occur for the people I love , restoring my faith that the universe is benevolent.
I have two dear friends, both male and both like brothers to me. I love them with all my heart. One has been terminally single for years. In fact, one of his earliest memories is of his childminder who swore that she came from a line of gypsies and could read palms. Turning his hand over, nodding her head sadly, he remembers her saying: "You will be loved by many, but you will not find that special love". He was six. That bloody woman has haunted him his whole life. He and I have scoured the globe for a potential partner for him and while he kissed a lot of frogs, that special someone eluded us.
Well, yesterday I was the "best man" at his wedding. At the age of 46 he is now married, blissfully happy and more excited by love and life than I deem respectful. Forty-six! Miracles can happen.
From six to 46, he waited to find love. A miracle!
My other friend waited many years for his child. And horrifically a month ago his darling little boy was diagnosed with a tumour. This rocked everything. The cruelty, the sheer horror, the unfairness. We railed against HaShem, against the world.
Holding their hands on the journey to hell, we experienced the best and the worst in the medical profession and human nature. We were humbled by the love they felt around them. I found a level of compassion and true meaning of selfless friendship, which was wishing and praying to do anything, go anywhere to alleviate and change their pain.
I prayed. Fervently and with God in my heart. I've never understood the meaning of prayer in quite that way. But it was visceral. Yesterday, at the same time as my one friend married the love of his life, my other friend was told that his darling child's tumour had, against all odds, been removed, that therapy wasn't needed, that it was a billion to one shot, but that full recovery will take place.
I cried my eyes out yesterday with sheer wonder and sheer gratitude. And for me that is my Christmas/Chanucah message. Miracles can happen. God bless you every one!