When I moved to California in December 1979, my mother asked me if I had a Chanukah menorah to take with me. I did not, as I had recently given my childhood menorah (it held birthday candles) to my young niece. My mother gave me the family menorah, the one that we had lit together all my life. I was deeply touched.
I went home the next Chanukah and was horrified to see my parents lighting an electric menorah. Oh, no, I thought, they gave me their menorah and now they don't have another. For their anniversary that year, I went to a Judaica shop in San Francisco and bought them a really nice menorah, one that cost a little more than I could afford. When I sent it, they oohed and aahed over how lovely it was, then stashed it in the china cabinet with all their pretty things, and kept lighting their electric menorah every Chanukah. I gave up.
This year, I realized that Sunday, the first night of Chanukah, would find me living in New Jersey while most of my possessions still reside in California, including the family menorah. I went to my parents house for dinner Friday night. I looked in the china cabinet and there it was, still as unused as the day it was bought. I took it home with me, and tonight, about twenty five years after it was purchased, I lit it for the first time. I said the shechechiyanu prayer over it, blessing God for sustaining me long enough to reach this moment.