Friday, December 12, 2014

A Beacon in the Darkness

Thought for the day: You know you're getting old when the candles cost more than the cake. (sigh)

[Morguefile]
It's that time of year again. (Already!) If you folks in the southeastern part of the United States happen to see a massive glow in the sky tomorrow, fear not. It'll just be the blaze atop my birthday cake, assuming we take the chance on lighting all those candles. Aaah, probably not. The fire department must be getting tired of coming by the house every year to extinguish the bonfire. The truth is, I'm creeping closer to that age where there will once again be a single candle perched atop my cake, and everybody will tell me what a good girl I am if  I can summon enough whoosh to blow it out in one try. Know what? Might be best to skip the cake altogether, and just have a glass of wine.

Hey! I'm OLD. I can do that if I wanta.

Anyhow, I won't be around to respond to your comments tomorrow, and I'm not gonna write a new post for today, either. (What a rebel!) Instead, I'm going to do a wee bit of editing, and share a re-run, which originally appeared in December of 2012 as One Candle. Because sometimes a single candle is all it takes to conquer the darkness...

                           Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

P.S. You at your wit's end trying to figure out what to give some of the senior citizens on your Christmas list? Would you like a suggestion? A hand-picked selection of greeting cards for various occasions (very inexpensive at places like the Dollar Store) is a super thoughtful and useful gift. Throw in some stamps, a couple pens, and maybe some pretty note cards or writing paper, and you're sure to make that special elderly neighbor or friend a happy camper. Or how about a book? Maybe... Old Broads Waxing Poetic? Not only is it a fun collection of poetry, but all proceeds from sales go to CARE International. Or (ahem) Hot Flashes and Cold Lemonade? Good for all ages, and hey! if I sell enough books, I might be able to treat Smarticus to a nice dinner out over the Holidays. Heck, maybe even get him fries to go with his burger...

Now then, moving right along. Where was I! Oh yeah, about that single candle...

*********************

Thought for the day:  It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.  [Chinese proverb]

[Morguefile]

Can the light from a single candle make a difference? Can one person radiate enough light to hold the powers of darkness at bay?

Yes, a thousand times yes. Or to be more accurate, 2500 times.

Hanukkah, an eight-day festival celebrating the triumph of light over darkness, of purity over adulteration, and spirituality over materialism, begins next Tuesday. To all who are Jewish, I wish you a very happy Hanukkah. For the rest of us, I believe we, too, should embrace the ideals of light over darkness. 

Here's a story of a very special woman who did just that.

[Wikipedia]

Her name? Irena Sendler. This is what she looked like in 1942, when the young Polish Catholic woman lived in German-occupied Warsaw. As a social worker and nurse, she was allowed to enter the Jewish ghetto. She saw their suffering first-hand, and knew that people of all ages were being  forcibly removed from their homes, never to return. And she also knew what the penalty was for trying to help them.

[Wikipedia]









She knew what the penalty was, because signs like this were posted all over Warsaw. 

These signs issued a clear warning that helping anyone leave the Jewish settlement without authorization was punishable by death.

And yet...
[credit: German Federal Archive]
And yet, the dark plight of the children tore at her heartstrings, and she had to DO something. As a member of the Zegota resistance movement, she smuggled 2500 children out of the Warsaw ghetto, provided them with false identities, and got them to a safe location... to private homes, to orphanages, to convents. She took the children out in ambulances, under the pretext that they were infected with typhus; she carried them out in tool boxes; she transported them in coffins. Whatever it took, she did it. One after another, desperate parents turned their beloved children over to her, a virtual stranger, in the hopes that their children would be spared from the horrors of living... and dying... in a concentration camp. Each child's name, Sendler recorded on paper, along with their new identities and locations. Then she tucked those papers into jars, which she buried under an apple tree in her yard. Following the war, the information in those jars was used to reunite some of the families. Unfortunately, most of the parents were already gone, but thanks to Sendler and other members of the resistance, their children survived.

[Wikipedia]

In 1965, Israel recognized Sendler as Righteous Among the Nations, a designation honoring non-Jews who risked their lives during the Holocaust to save Jews. And risk her life, she did: Sendler was captured, tortured, and sentenced to death... and spared from execution by virtue of a bribe. The Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations is part of the Yad Vashem complex on the Mount of Remembrance in Jerusalem.

[Wikipedia]

At the entrance to the Garden stands the Tree of Irena Sendler. I don't know what kind of tree is it, but an apple tree would be perfect, wouldn't it?


[credit: Mariesz Kubik]

This picture, taken in 2005, shows Sendler with the grown-up versions of some of the children she smuggled out of that Warsaw ghetto during the war.

[credit: Mariesz Kubik]




In 2007, Sendler was presented with the Order of the Smile, an international award given by children to adults distinguished in their love, care, and aid for children. A year later, she passed away.




In 2009, Poland issued a commemorative coin in honor of three women. One was Irena Sendler, a woman who proved that one person... one candle burning brightly in the darkness... can indeed, make a difference.





In a world full of darkness, in a world full of pain,
All it takes is a sparkle, all it takes is a flame,
To make joy out of sadness, to bring hope to a life,
Like the promise of the dawn
On a long winter's night.
[from the song Light One Candle, by Ronnie Spector]



                                       Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

Let it shine! [Wikipedia]

P.S. For those of you who will be lighting menorah candles, I'll betcha you won't be doing it in such an unusual way as THIS...



77 comments:

  1. Thank you, Susan for that amazing account of a remarkable and amazing woman. I did not know about her. I am improved by knowing about her now. As for the blaze of your cake, I suggest candles molded in number shapes --we will reverse the 56 ones saved from another decade to deck my 65th birthday this month. Easier to blow out and get right to the wish, which is the same as yours, I reckon --world peace.

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    1. In the light of all the dark stories in today's news, it's wonderful and reassuring to remember that people like Irena Sendler once existed... and that people like her still exist today.

      Yes, world peace. We've been wishing for that for a lot of years now, haven't we?

      Allow me to be the first to wish you a very happy birthday, dude. And many many more.

      Delete
  2. Just had my 50th birthday, to save time and prevent a possible house fire I skipped the candles and just ate the cake before anyone else could get their hands on it.

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    1. Well, then, a very happy belated birthday to you, dear sir! I hope you had a terrific one. Yeah, you're right. After a certain point, candles are highly overrated.

      Delete
  3. Happy Birthday, Susan! I hope you have a wonderful day, candles or no candles, and thank you for reminding us all about the difference one person can make!

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    1. Thanks! I think it's a reminder we could all use from time to time. We tend to forget how much power a determined individual can possess.

      Delete
  4. Happy, Happy Birthday Susan... I hope it was an amazing day ♡

    Oh my this story was beautiful and touching... I loved reading it, thank you for sharing ;-)

    Have a lovely weekend...:-)

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    1. Thanks, thanks, thanks, Launna.

      I'm glad you liked the story. She was an amazing woman.

      You have a super weekend, too.

      Delete
  5. Happy Birthday! What a powerful story.

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    1. Thanks! I think her story is very powerful, too.

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  6. A happy birthday to you......just skip the candles and go straight on to the cake.
    Thank you for sharing that touching video.

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    1. Thanks. Yeah, who needs candles? Cake it is!

      You're welcome. Thanks for watching it.

      Delete
  7. I'm always amazed by these stories of courage and the fact that a single person can indeed make a difference.

    Happy Birthday :)

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  8. Amazing woman, amazing story--thank you for (re)sharing it.

    And a Very Happy Birthday to you! It doesn't matter how many candles are on your cake as long as you...er, I mean they...get lit. ;)

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    1. She was definitely an amazing woman with a story worth re-telling.

      Thank you. HA! I'll see what I can do...

      Delete
  9. Happy Birthday weekend. I shall look for the glow in the sky. Just enjoy the weekend and bask in the glow and warmth. Plus a glass of wine - Salut!

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    1. Thanks. Yes, you do that, although if I heed Linda's advise, that "glow" you see may actually be... me! HA. (Not likely... I'm a real lightweight when it comes to adult beverages.) But a glass of wine... I think I can handle that. Salut!

      Have a terrific weekend.

      Delete
  10. Very inspiring story! Happy birthday to you! :)

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    1. I'm glad you were touched by her story, too.

      Thanks! :)

      Delete
  11. Happy Birthday! I agree with Linda above. L'chaim!

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  12. >>... You know you're getting old when the candles cost more than the cake. (sigh)

    Ha! An instant classic.

    >>... I won't be around to respond to your comments tomorrow, and I'm not gonna write a new post for today, either. ...Instead, I'm going to do a wee bit of editing, and share a re-run, which originally appeared in December of 2012...

    Wow, SUSKI, you're really getting lazy in your old--- er... in your MIDDLE age!

    But you know what? This was such a good blog bit that it DESERVED to be resurrected and given another day to shine.

    Have a wonderful birthday. And if it takes more than just one glass of wine to get the wonder flowing, then let the wine flow too!

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

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    1. Yep, one of the good things about getting older is I don't mind partaking in a little laziness from time to time. I don't feel a constant need to produce and achieve. It's time for a little laurel-resting and pure enjoyment.

      Nope, I don't need any wine at all to get the wonder flowing. I'm in a constant state of wonder, as in "I wonder where I left my [fill in the blank... just about anything will do]"

      Thanks for the birthday wishes. Happy weekend!

      Delete
  13. Happy Birthday, Susan. I never use any more candles than are in one box and have been celebrating my 16th birthday for decades now.

    I loved reading about Irena Sendler. I would have never known about her if I had not read your post. Thank you for telling her story.

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    1. Thanks. Ahhh, a good plan! Sixteen has such a sweet ring to it. (Less chance of fire, too.)

      I'm honored to be the one to tell you about Irena Sendler. May her story inspire us all.

      Delete
  14. Happy birthday, well you may be old, but at least no diapers are near, that is one plus lol

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    1. Thanks, but... how do YOU know?

      HA! Just kidding. Let's hope it stays that way.

      Delete
  15. Happy birthday Susan! Wine instead of cake... love it!!!

    I've read about Irena Sendler before, but her story is such a beautiful one that I can easily read it several times a year. People who still move in the face of fear are to be much admired. How many wanted to do something to help but were so afraid of those signs (and the very real punishment that would come to those who disobeyed that message) stalled out in their tracks. So... Irena, and all those who helped her, should be remembered. It was a beautiful thing she did.

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    1. Thanks! How about wine AND cake... or maybe a rum cake? Yeah, that sounds good...

      Yes, I agree. People like Irena Sendler are the true heroes of this world.

      Delete
  16. What a remarkable woman. Happy Birthday, you young punk!!

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    1. She sure was. HA! Thanks, you sweet old broad.

      Delete
  17. Happy, happy birthday Susan - and Geo. The world is the brighter for you, with or without those candles.
    And people like Irena Sendler are a beacon, a blaze and a triumph. Thank you for sharing her story. And thank her for being who she was.

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    1. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

      Yes, Irena Sendler definitely exemplified the triumph of the human spirit. The world is a better place because she spent some time in it.

      Delete
  18. Many Birthdays around this time.
    You, another blogger friend, a best friend, my son and me !
    When you get my age sometimes you are happy to see all the candles firemen and all. Then you remember yes. I made it through another year.
    My son always says I am 36 and a few years. Works for me !

    Let there be cake !
    cheers, parsnip

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    1. Well, and a very happy birthday to you, too... and to your son. He sounds like a very wise man, indeed.

      Yes! Let us eat cake!!

      Delete
  19. Happy birthday! I hope you have a good one. :-)

    Greetings from London.

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    1. Thank you! I'm sure it'll be just dandy.

      Greeting back atcha.

      Delete
  20. Happy birthday, Susan!
    And thank you for sharing the story of this remarkable woman.
    Thought-provoking and inspiring...

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    1. Thanks, Julia! It's wonderful to hear from you again.

      Yes, she truly was a remarkable woman. I'm glad you liked her story.

      Delete
  21. Happy birthday! Skip the candles (if you want), and have cake and wine.

    What a story - Irena Sendler was indeed a bright light in a world of terror and fear.

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    1. Thanks! Gee, my birthday isn't until tomorrow, and I'm already sipping a glass of wine. (Life is good!)

      Agreed. Her story never fails to inspire me.

      Delete
  22. Glad you were able to "make light" of your aging. Here's a tip: to keep things under control, put one candle on the cake for every ten years of you life. That will still be a lot of candles, but you won't have to call the Fire Department.

    Happy Birthday! Blessings and Bear hugs, too!

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    1. I like to "make light" of just about anything. Especially age. We can't do a darned thing about it, so we might as well enjoy it, right?

      A tenth the number of candles? Yep, that could work.We wouldn't even have to keep the fire department on stand-by...

      Thanks!

      Delete
  23. Happy Birthday, Susan! I hope you're having a wonderful weekend celebration with "Smarticus!" And for the record, I don't care what the candles say, you have more energy, and zest for life than some college kids I know. It's amazing how Irena Sendler had the strength, courage and know-how to save all of those children. Thanks for sharing her remarkable story.

    BTW, Thanks also for the wonderful holiday gift ideas, Birthday Girl!
    Julie

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    1. Thanks, Julie! It feels like we've been "celebrating" all week. Smarticus has been flat out spoiling me rotten. We're going out again tonight...to dinner and a play.We went to dinner and the movies on Wednesday. Woo HOO! Life is good.

      College kids with less energy than I have? OY! Better get those kids some Geritol, STAT!

      I'm glad you liked Irena Sendler's story. She was a remarkable woman.

      My pleasure.Have a terrific weekend, kiddo.

      Delete
  24. HAPPY BIRTHDAY Sis! Wish I was there, I would load your cake with candles. heehee

    Although you are truly a one candle person in my life. You never fail to shine brightly, just to make me and your friends smile. Love you sis.

    And thank you for the remarkable story. I just a book based on her life last year - and for the life of me, I can't remember the title. But the woman is never to be forgotten.

    Hugs and love 12:34

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    1. THANK YOU, li'l sis. Yeah, I just bet you would,but puhleeze, no baloney and mayo cake, okay?

      Very cool that you read a book about Irena Sendler. She was an amazing woman.

      Hugs and love back atcha. 12:34

      Delete
  25. Beautiful post, Susan. Irena Sendler is a hero of mine. So much so that Sendler (along with Varian Fry the first American recognized as Righteous Among the Nations) inspired my second novel.

    I hope your birthday is amazing!

    "As a Sagittarius born on December 13th, you are charismatic and live life on the edge. You are naturally charming and warm and as a result, people seem to gravitate to you. You are quite popular, which is great because you do not mind being the center of attention. Social settings are simply a stage for you to perform to your audience. In life, your charm is paired with a desire to achieve greatness, despite any risks that may be involved. At times, you are truly fearless!"

    VR Barkowski

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    1. Thanks. I'm glad you liked the post, and I'm thrilled Irena Sendler's one of your heroes, too. I can't wait to read I'll that novel.

      Thanks! It's been amazing so far.

      Oooh, love that astrological description.

      Delete
  26. Happy birthday, Susan, fellow Sagittarius.

    Sendler acted nobly and bravely. Thank you for the history lesson on a wonderful woman.

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    1. Thank you. And a very happy birthday to you, too!

      She sure did. My kinda role model.

      Delete
  27. I remember the first time I read this and feeling proud that someone had helped so many children escape and survive.
    Happy Birthday.

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    1. Yeah, I know what you mean. She was amazing.

      Thank you!

      Delete
  28. Happy birthday. In our house we've resorted to just the one candle. It's cheaper and safer by far!

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    1. Thank you. Yeah, I think a single candle is gonna have to be our choice from now on, too. Or no candle. (Even safer!)

      It's great to hear from you. again.

      Delete
  29. Belated Happy Birthday ... and I hope you had a most wonderful day with family and friends ... Smarticus will enjoy his burger - hope the fries are affordable too!

    The Hanukkah candle just sort of mesmerises .. geeks we need them!

    While Irena Sendler .. incredible story and she lived .. that's just great .. thanks for reposting for us .. cheers Hilary

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    1. Thank you, Hilary. It truly was a wonderful day.

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  30. Happy belated birthday! I hope it was a good one. I gave up on candles years ago because I got sick of my frosting turning into swiss cheese from all of those candle holes.

    Also, wow, I had never heard of Irena Sendler, nor of her amazing story. It kills me how many heroes like this fly under the radar, when these are the exact people we need to be learning about in our history classes.

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    1. Thank you! It was terrific. Yeah, ya got a point about all those holes.

      Agreed. A lot of the best pieces of history never make it into our textbooks; we have to find 'em on our own.

      Delete
  31. Happy belated birthday! And no, I didn't see the glow in the sky from your candles. I'll have to look for it next year. ;0)

    Irena sounds like a wonderful woman! I remember this post about her, and I was impressed the first time I read it.

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    1. Thanks! You didn't miss the glow; in the interest of safety we opted to skip the candles.

      Yes, Irena is certainly worth remembering.

      Delete
  32. Hey Susan, A belated Happy Birthday to you my friend I was wondering what that glow in the sky was and am now proud to know what it was :)

    Excellent idea on the gift giving for an elderly person, and the book ideas are good choices too.

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    1. Thanks! It was definitely a good un.

      I'm glad you like the gift idea. My neighbor was thrilled when I gave the card assortment, etc to her.

      Delete
  33. HAPPY BIRTHDAY WISHES:) GOD BLESS YOU WITH A LONG AND LOVELY LIFE:))

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    1. Thank you! He has certainly done that, and I'm very grateful to still be around.

      Delete
  34. The pictures from the mid-2000s are amazing. Thank you for this post, Susan.

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    1. You're welcome, Suzy Q-sie. I'm glad you liked them.

      Delete
  35. I know you didn't burn down the house because you're only 19!! right? right?? great history. I'm such a buff for it. I mean I'm buff, no..wait. :D

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    1. The only reason I didn't burn down the house is because we didn't light the candles!

      Yes, indeed, you're a very buff history buff. Sounds good to me!

      Delete
  36. Happy Birthday. Don't worry about the candles, just eat the cake. That's what I do.

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    1. Thanks. Yeah, you're right. We don't need no stinkin' candles!

      Delete
  37. Happy Birthday. How about keep the cake, skip the candles, and add lots of wine?

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  38. I've read about Sendler before and never cease to be amazed at her courage. This post gave me chills.
    Happy Holidays to you and Smartacus and all your family, Susan.

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    1. Right back atcha, Julie. I hope your family enjoys the best holiday season ever.

      Delete
  39. We're not lighted outside, but only because I don't like to climb on the roof in the cold (to put them up or take them down). :) We're decorated on the inside though!! Merry Christmas to you!

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