Each year, we begin dusting off the holiday geegaws and doodads right after we wake up from our Thanksgiving turkey slumber. We never really know when Hanukah falls as the Jewish calendar differs each year. So this year, it came very early, and we had to get those presents rolling! As Adam Sandler says, " We have 8 Craaazy nights!" My kids understand that I cannot always get them fabulous omg stuff, so they suffice with a few nice gift cards, a couple of splurges like a phone upgrade or perhaps a meal at a fancy restaurant. Honestly, my kids are not spoiled at all. They appreciate the smallest things. Most of all, they enjoy their family and their friends, and they are very generous souls.
After the 8th night, I have to get a box, put away all the geegaws and doodads, which are basically a few menorahs, and some wooden dreidels. The kids now get ready to do Xmas with my hubby's family. As Jews, we do not really celebrate, but I like to think of it as helping others with their celebrations. So they get to decorate a tree, gets some gifts, and eat some seriously fattening foods! Half Jewish Half Catholic, they get the best of all worlds. And if they ever go into politics, well, they can check off the diversity box.
My in laws have a tradition where they wrap the presents from Santa, as we used to from "Hanukah Harry, Santa's best pal," and open them at midnight. It may be a Czech tradition to do this, they are not sure. It is complete chaos, people stuffed into a tiny living room, eating very non-Kosher and very Pennsylvanian ring bologna, Ritz crackers, and various assorted goodies clogging up the kitchen table, brought by the Amish neighbors. The Amish kids sometime stop by for a snack, a yak, and just enjoying the company of us "English". I am lucky to see this rarified world. I betcha I am the only Jew they have ever met! There is always a surprise addition, a neighbor, or a new baby these days. So the room gets ever more congested.
Sadly, because of Covid, we had to skip a couple of years' worth of fun, and this year we are going on a plane for a very long overdue visit with my Canadian family. However, no one really likes going to Winnipeg in 20 below weather, so we all meet in the Palm Springs, CA area. We rent a bunch of condos, and the whole area becomes a haven for the "Snowbirds," most of whom hail from Toronto, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, and other Midwestern-ish areas.
The Midwestern Canadian is like a Canadian goose: they like to flock together and eat together. It is a constant stream of food, family, multi-generational friends, recipe exchanges, potlucks and coffee klatches. We go and shop at the outlets and my favorite pastime location: Ye Olde Swap Meet. California had 2 kinds of swap meets: 1 is where literally people trade car parts and paraphernalia, maybe set up a booth with Mexican food stuffs, and then the other is similar but with imported items, date shakes, and lots of cheapo trendy clothes. Who buys all this crap? Well, me for one. In addition, I plan on resting my weary bones in the hot springs. Yes, I will smell like rotten eggs because of the sulfur, but I can't wait. Then I may take a mini walk in the desert by Joshua Tree. I will report back when I return! In the meantime, happy holidays to all of you!