One of my favorite holiday traditions is celebrating Hanukkah across the street. Every year, Jean’s husband Eric makes a mountain (over a foot high) of latkes, which go on the table next to scads of sour cream and applesauce. Jean makes a giant Israeli salad with olives, and neighbor Sarah brings artichoke heart kugel.
As soon as everyone arrives, not long after sunset, the neighborhood children take their positions in front of Eric’s collection of menorahs. He tells the story of the oil that lasted longer than anyone expected, of how the Jews celebrate positive events rather than war or violence. He tells them about the tradition of lighting the candles from left to right, even though reading goes right to left (“It was a long, complicated debate, something about balancing things out; I won’t go into it.”). Once the candles are lit, it’s time to eat. The dreidel game comes out, and the grown-ups dig in to the food.
I’ve watched the kids grow from in-parents’-arms to solo candle-lighting. Yesterday, my kids’ high school Latin teacher met Fiona. Each year, newcomers join and regulars become new people. Thanks to Jean and Eric, our own children and a some international students from Germany and Pakistan got an insider taste of Hanukkah. It may be a small window, but that’s how tradition and familiarity begin.
My 60th year in 60,000 words
Day 124: 224 words, TOTAL = 20,416; 39,584 remaining
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Robin Clifford Wood is an award-winning author, poet, and writing teacher. She lives in central Maine with her husband, loves to be outdoors, and enjoys ever-expanding horizons through her children, grandchildren, and granddogs.