Hanukkah Harry

📅 Published on November 23, 2021

“Hanukkah Harry”

Written by Micah Edwards
Edited by Craig Groshek and N.M. Brown
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on CreepypastaStories.com are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Rating: 10.00/10. From 1 vote.
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It’s nearly Hanukkah again, the Jewish winter holiday also called the Festival of Lights. To most people, that refers to the oil that miraculously lasted much longer than it should have, keeping the eternal flame burning until more oil could be made. For me, though, it’s the story of a very different eternal flame, one that’s burned in my house ever since I was a kid.

It wasn’t always like that. My family used to celebrate Hanukkah like everyone else: we’d light the menorah every evening, with one more candle each night until all nine were burning on the eighth night. We’d eat latkes, spin the dreidel and hand out presents.

I used to love Hanukkah. The crisp, hot latkes covered in applesauce and sour cream, the warm glow of the candles, the joy of winning chocolate gelt when the dreidel fell my way. And the presents, of course, even though they were often socks.

That’s how it started, actually: with a pair of socks.

I was twelve, and it was the first night of Hanukkah. My mother lit the shamash and used it to light the first candle while we sang the prayers. My father offered me a mesh bag of dollar-store chocolate coins and asked if I wanted to play dreidel, but I was excited for the presents. The first night was usually something good. First, fifth and eighth; those were where the good presents landed. In between were just the filler gifts, and on those nights dreidel would be more important. But this was the first night, and I wanted to see what I’d gotten.

I don’t remember what it was now. Something I wanted, I’m sure, probably something I’d hounded my parents about until I’d convinced them that I’d die without it. I don’t remember what I got them, either. What I do remember are the socks.

There were usually four presents per night in my family: one from my parents to me, one from me to them, and one from each of them to each other. That night, there was an extra present.

It was a thin rectangle wrapped in plain brown paper. It was very neatly done, with a small card taped precisely in the center of the box. My mother looked a bit confused when she picked it up.

“It says it’s from ‘Hanukkah Harry.’ It doesn’t say who it’s for.”

“Let me open it!” I begged.

My father laughed. “There’s an extra present, so you think it must be for you? Well, you could be right. Open it and let’s see what it is.”

I tore into it with excitement, ripping away the paper to reveal a blank white cardboard box. Inside of that was a pair of tall socks covered in pictures of menorahs, dreidels and the words “Happy Hanukkah” in a repeating pattern.

“Huh,” I said, checking the box for anything I might have missed, maybe a note explaining who it was for or why it was here. The box was small and contained nothing else. “Thanks?”

I didn’t mind the socks. They were an extra present, after all. I just didn’t understand why there had been the extra buildup, the promise of a mystery present, only for it to be socks. It felt anticlimactic.

My mother cast another sidelong glance at my dad. He only shrugged. “Hanukkah Harry works in mysterious ways.”

We played dreidel after that, betting our chocolate coins against each other as the candles burned down. I got a few lucky gimels when the betting pool was high, and came out the big winner of the night. My father attributed it to the lucky socks I’d gotten from Hanukkah Harry, saying that they covered my shins. My mother said that if this entire thing had been a setup for that joke, he wasn’t getting any latkes for the rest of Hanukkah, but he swore that it had just come to him in the moment.

The candles burned slowly down, I gorged myself on cheap chocolate, and it was basically just a night of Hanukkah like any other.

On the second night, there was another neatly-wrapped brown paper present, almost exactly the same size as the one the night before. It was again marked as being from Hanukkah Harry, and as always it had no recipient.

“Do you want to open it again?” my father asked me.

I held up my gift from my parents, a six-pack of white athletic socks. “No thanks! I’ve got all of the socks I need tonight.”

“I’ll open it,” my mother said, casting a curious look at my father. The blank box within the paper resembled the previous one, but this time it contained a pair of elbow-length white gloves. “Thank you. They’re lovely.”

“Don’t thank me, thank Hanukkah Harry,” my father said. My mother laughed and shoved him lightly.

The third night, it was the same thing once more. This time my father opened the mystery present.

“I’m sure Hanukkah Harry got you something good,” my mother teased him. “Almost like he knew exactly what you would want.”

“It isn’t me!” protested my father. “I don’t know why you think it is.”

The present was revealed to be a balaclava made out of thick white wool. My father held it up quizzically. It was my mother’s turn to declare her innocence.

“It looks nice and warm, though,” she said. “Very good coverage.”

Later that night, after I was supposed to have been asleep in bed, I heard my parents discussing the mystery gifts.

“I swear it isn’t me,” my father said. “I assumed it was you.”

“Why would I get myself a present?” my mother asked.

“Why wouldn’t you? They’re very nice gloves. I thought maybe you were hinting about what sort of thing I should have gotten you.”

“Well, if you’re taking hints, I wouldn’t mind a new dress to go with the gloves.”

“Ask Hanukkah Harry! I’ve already bought and wrapped all of your gifts for this year.”

“Seriously, though.” My mother dropped her voice to a whisper. “If it’s you, you have to tell me. Because if it isn’t—how are the gifts getting into our house?”

“I promise it isn’t,” replied my father. “I’ll check all of the locks tonight.”

I assume he did so, though maybe he forgot. Either way, there was a plain brown present from Hanukkah Harry there again on the fourth night.

“Maybe we shouldn’t open it,” my mother said.

“It’s bigger than the others,” my father said. “Maybe it’s something that will explain what’s going on.”

It was a weak argument, but my mother was as curious as any of us, so it was enough to sway her. My father opened it up and withdrew a pair of pajamas printed with a pattern of cheery Hanukkah symbols similar to the socks.

“This is weird,” my mother said.

That night, I heard each window rattling as she checked the locks, not trusting the job my father had done. But there was still another mystery present on the fifth night.

“I don’t like this,” said my mother. “Someone’s getting into our house.”

“The Christians have this every year,” my father told her. “It’s about time we got a Jewish Santa.”

“You’re not taking this seriously.”

“It’s presents. I’m sure it’s someone we know playing a joke.”

“Well, they can go ahead and admit to it any time now. I’m not laughing.”

“We don’t have to open it if you don’t want to.”

My mother sighed. “No, open it. We might as well know what it is.”

Inside was a plastic mask. The face was rosy-cheeked and smiling, with a fringe of hair, curly sideburns and a beard painted along the edges. The eyeholes were covered with mesh so that no one could see in, but the wearer could still see out. “Hanukkah Harry” was stamped on the inside of the mask.

“Well, now we know who’s been sending the gifts,” my father said, holding up the mask to look it in the face. “Thank you, Hanukkah Harry.”

He then put on a squeaky voice and nodded the mask with his hand. “You’re welcome!”

“Stop it,” said my mother. “I don’t like it.”

“Sorry,” he said in the squeaky voice, bobbing the mask at her. She glared at him and he dropped it onto the table. “Right. Onto dreidel, then?”

The next night, I was upstairs washing my hands when I heard my mother laugh.

“So it was you this whole time?” I heard her say.

“It was me,” replied a neutral voice I didn’t recognize.

My father spoke. “Fine, very good. I should have seen what this was building toward. I see there’s no extra present tonight. ”

I wondered who was downstairs. I didn’t know of anyone who was supposed to be coming over, but it sounded like whoever it was had been behind the presents. I hurried down, anxious to find out.

My parents were in the living room with their backs to me. Across the room from them, on the side of the couch where I usually sat, was a curious figure. The Hanukkah Harry mask shielded his face from view, and his head and neck were covered by the white balaclava. The Hanukkah socks and long white gloves stuck out from the pajamas, covering every inch of skin.

“Who is that?” I asked from the stairs.

My parents whirled around, looks of shock on their faces. “It isn’t—? We thought—”

“I’m Hanukkah Harry,” the intruder said in that same neutral tone. “I’m here for Hanukkah.”

He stood then, and my parents both flinched back. He crossed to the menorah and lit the shamash, then used it to light all six of the other candles, singing the Chanukah bracha as he did so. Uncertain what to do, we all simply watched.

When the candles were lit, Hanukkah Harry picked up a dreidel and turned to face us. The unmoving grin on that plastic face mocked our fear. He leaned down to the table and gave the dreidel a spin.

“When the light of the last candle goes out,” Harry said, “I’ll collect my winnings.”

He walked toward the door. My parents shrank away from him. I retreated up several stairs, but he made no move toward me. He exited our house through the front door and vanished into the night.

“I’m going to call the police,” my father said.

“Look,” said my mother, pointing toward the menorah. On the table next to it, the dreidel still spun. “How is it still going?”

My father moved slowly into the room, thoughts of the police forgotten. He waved his hand over the spinning top, then gently gave it a light flick with his finger. The dreidel wavered for a moment, then righted itself. My father nudged it again, harder.

“Don’t,” said my mother, but the dreidel had once again shrugged off the hit. It seemed determined to continue its spin.

“I’m going to grab it,” my father said.

“Seth, don’t,” my mother pleaded. “Leave it alone. I don’t like anything that’s happening here.”

The dreidel continued to spin throughout the evening, lasting hours instead of mere seconds. Finally, when the last Hanukkah candle burned down to the end and extinguished itself with a small wisp of smoke, the dreidel stuttered to a stop. We all gathered around to look. It showed a nun, the face that means you neither won nor lost anything.

“A nun,” my father asked. “All that for nothing?”

“At least he won’t be coming back,” my mother said. “He didn’t win, he didn’t lose. He has no reason to return.”

On the next night, though, Hanukkah Harry appeared again, sitting on the couch like he belonged there. My mother let out a small shriek when she entered the room to see him there.

“What do you want?” she cried.

“I’m Hanukkah Harry,” he said again, his tone as level as ever. “I’m here for Hanukkah.”

He picked up the matches and lit the shamash. Once he’d lit the other candles and sung the prayer, he spun the dreidel just as before, then headed for the door. My father made a grab for Harry’s mask as he walked past, but Harry bobbed to the side without even turning his head to look.

“When the light of the last candle goes out,” he said, pausing at the door, “I’ll collect my winnings.”

He walked into the night and was gone.

The dreidel spun the entire time that the candles burned again, and finally fell as the menorah went dark. This time, it showed a hey—not as good as a gimel, where you collect everything in the center, but still a win condition letting you take half of it.

“Half the pot?” my mother asked. “What does that mean? What does he think we were betting?”

We found that out soon enough. Half of the money in my parents’ accounts disappeared overnight. Checking, savings, retirement: all gone as if it had never been there. The same was true for money in the house, cash in their wallets, and even half of the chocolate gelt I had left. Apparently what we were betting was everything.

We left on the eighth night. We went to a friend’s house and celebrated Hanukkah with them. I was certain that Hanukkah Harry was going to track us down, to walk in their door and confront us again, but we lit the candles and said the prayers and nothing happened.

Eventually we relaxed. We ate and laughed and shared presents, and it was almost like normal. But when we returned home at the end of the evening, all of the tension came rushing back. We had left before sunset to make it in time for the candle lighting. We had not lit our own menorah. Yet there in the window of our living room, nine tiny lights flickered.

When we stepped inside, the house was quiet other than a very faint droning sound coming from the living room. We walked toward it, drawn inexorably on. We found what we knew we must. The sound was being made by a plastic top spinning away on a wooden table, dancing merrily for hours, waiting for the last candle to burn out.

“Maybe it’ll be a shin,” my father said. “Maybe he’ll lose for a change.”

“What if it’s a gimel?” whispered my mother, as if afraid to even say the words aloud. “What if he takes everything?”

“We’ll rebuild.”

“What if it’s everything?” she repeated, stressing the word. “Not just money. Everything?”

My father stared at the menorah. There was barely any wax left to the candles. One had already gone out.

“Wait here,” he said, and disappeared into the basement.

He returned with a pillar candle, carrying it over to the menorah. The breeze as he walked caused the fires to sputter. Two more went out.

“Careful!” said my mother.

My father slowed his steps but continued on. He knelt carefully before the menorah and held the wick of the pillar candle up to the dying flames. Slowly, a bead of wax trickled down, and then the wick caught. My father set the candle carefully down on the table.

“Does that count?” my mother asked.

My father looked over at the remnants of the Hanukkah candles. Only three flames remained. “We’ll find out in a few minutes.”

All three of us stared at the Hanukkah candles as they faded down to nothing. The shamash was the last to go. Its flame faded down to a little blue glow, then flared upward in one final gasp before finally extinguishing.

Our eyes snapped to the dreidel. I was sure we would see it totter and fall, but it spun on undisturbed, lit by the glow of the pillar candle.

“The light of the last candle hasn’t gone out,” my father said. He sighed in relief, then covered his mouth in horror as the flame faltered in the sudden wind. It recovered and he sighed again, this time in a safer direction.

“We have to protect it,” my mother said. “And we need bigger candles. How long will that burn?”

I won’t bore you with the details. Suffice it to say that although it has been decades, although my parents have passed on and I have moved a half-dozen times since then, there is in my house a shelf with a large candle protected by a hurricane glass cylinder, and next to it spins a dreidel that never seems to fall.

It might be shin. I have no reason to believe that Hanukkah Harry would cheat. There’s a fifty percent chance that I’d come out of this just fine. But there’s a fifty percent chance that I wouldn’t.

Which means that there’s a one hundred percent chance that I keep a large supply of candles in the house at all times, and a zero percent chance that I open gifts without labels.

Rating: 10.00/10. From 1 vote.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

Written by Micah Edwards
Edited by Craig Groshek and N.M. Brown
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Micah Edwards

Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on CreepypastaStories.com are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

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