T he halo of the candles has nothing to do with the momentary cloud crossing Avrum’s face. Yossi’s arts and crafts project has everything to do with it.

I watch his eyes as he processes the neat, computerized Sefirah chart and professionally designed Har Sinai with the 3-D flowers. He examines the project with way too much care.

“Who’s your rebbi?” he asks.

“Rabbi Rosenstein.”

Avrum says nothing. He just tries to find his chin amid his wide beard without success.

I think of a different second-grade class showing off foam soup bowls bedecked with real grass plucked from the yard with some wildflowers and dandelion stems. And plenty of Elmer’s, I’m sure. I think of the way Avrum picks those flowers on the way to cheder, his eyes expertly peeled and fixed on the ground looking for finds, breaking the pinecones apart and pocketing them to show his students the niflaos haBorei in each seed.

He might be a man past sixty, but his pockets still need to be checked before I throw in a dark load. I’ve learned that it’s a waste to complain about it. Forty-three years of marriage have taught me a thing or two.

There’s a strange silence at the table. Not one of Suri’s kids is crying, and Avrum is quiet. Avrum is never quiet. (Excerpted from Calligraphy, Succos 5778)