I KNOW there are other Jewish bloggers out there, but I don't seem to know where they are! So, I'm sharing with my reading friends. Chanukah (my preferred spelling) is considered a minor-hard to believe, huh?-holiday. It's a great story, recounting bravery, fighting and miracles. the Maccabees were victorious, the single vial of lamp oil lasted eight days, long enough to procure sanctified oil (or to make sanctified oil, depends on which story version you grew up with), and we get to eat great food. That's pretty tongue-in-cheek, but the story is simple: persecuted people ousted the oppressors, cleaned up the Temple, relit the light, and enjoyed a celebration. Now, some people try to equate it to Christmas, and I'm not about to go down that path, I'll share my feelings and thoughts....
When I think about Chanukah, I think of my mother hand grating all those potatoes for latkes. I think about oranges that my Uncle Itz ordered by mail for everyone in Cleveland. I think about the paper plate of cookies my Aunt Lill brought each family from Youngstown: with pineapple tartlettes, hermits and Grandma Riva's cookie press cookies. Of course the cookie press cookies were all colored and pressed in the Christmas shapes, but that's what came with the press so that's what the sisters' used.
When my children were young, we fashioned that base into our own traditions. Our extended family would come for dinner one night of Chanukah, we'd have brisket, latkes, poppyseed cake and lots of cookie press cookies. Debbie would bring spinach dip because that's what she makes best, Donna would bring 7 layer dip because that's what she likes best. I usually wear my Happy Challah Day sweatshirt-which really makes no sense since I never serve challah at the big dinner-but it has dancing dreidels and a menorah, so it fits.
But this year I have the "piece du resistance": blue velvety dreidel dellibobbers!! What a find! I will post pictures soon, and you all will be green with envy...hmmm, one of those Christmas colors, huh?
The important thread that weaves through these memories and traditions is family. My family is my grounding point, plain and simple. I make no excuse for loving them all to bits, it's the way I am.
Tomorrow: share-able recipes start!