This post is dedicated to Marge: thank you for taking care of my family and keeping up with the traditions while I am bogged down at work. I love you.
Hanukkah is a funny thing in my house. In the midst of the chaos of life, it’s always amazing to me when my family (or parts thereof) are able to come together 8 nights in a row to gather around our menorahs to light the candles and sing the blessings. It doesn’t happen too often and I will admit – some nights are hit or miss. I’m not proud of this, but it’s a reality I have to accept or else I will be paralyzed by Jewish guilt.
Hanukkah is a holiday that I love and I slightly dread. The good parts – dreidles, chocolate gelt (‘coins’ used for playing dreidle), singing the same songs and blessings I sang as a girl, pulling out all of our menorahs and dusting them in preparation for the holiday, picking out the different color candles each night, the smell of lighting the match, watching the candles glow. The challenging parts: 8 nights of presents (technically speaking), latkes fried in oil (delicious, but messy & smelly), getting everyone together at the same time, and of course, making dinner. The biggest obstacle for me is prioritizing the celebration. It’s something I don’t like about myself and try to work on all of the time.
Enter Marge, stage left.
My mother really does a terrific job making sure every holiday is celebrated with gusto, friends, songs, too much food and lots a silliness. Last night was no different. She put Sam in charge of making latkes. I showed up mid-latke making and almost had a nervous breakdown looking at the splattered oil mess that surrounded Sammy. Oy. Just picture this: He’s latke-ing, and I’m behind him, spraying de-greaser after every move. Before long, the joy of cooking was lost for him and he handed the spatula over to me. I always know how to ruin a good thing – sorry Sam. You really did one hell of a job frying those latkes.
I guess the moral of this story is that none of us are perfect nor have a quirky-free family. Our meal would not be complete without Marge tying ribbon around her face (and keeping it there for a very long time) or balancing a box lid on her head. It would not be our family gathering if lyrics typed on paper were not passed out for all at the table to sing. My mother will always schooch me out of the kitchen when it comes to clean-up time, despite my urge to put on those purple gloves and start washing dishes. ‘KAREN. You work TOO HARD. OUT.’ All of these little things compile together to make the evening so typical of our family celebrations.
Marge. What else can I say? She makes the holidays, and all of the days in between, a celebration. Thanks for bringing your love of traditions mixed with silliness. May I grow up to be just like you. Sorta.