It started innocently enough, with Amster asking if I was making latkes this year. Like most of my projects since January 8th, this party grew from family only to half the western hemisphere. I'm not complaining. I'm just sayin'.... as Big Cuter has opined from time to time this week.
Costco made dinner and provided the potatoes and the vegetable oil and I brought the cuisinart and the plastic bowl and every Hanukah decoration in my possession. It filled the back of the Schnozz.
Chanukah-themed Go-Fish, thanks to a timely gift from FAMBB, was a big hit. G'ma and the Littlest Little One kept one another amused while I peeled and sliced and shredded and Amster pretended to take the day off from work. Neither player was quite sure of the rules. There was much discussion over whose turn it was at any particular moment. G'ma was quite willing to share the colors in her hand and her opponent had no compunctions about indulging her generosity. It was lovely.
By the time the guests arrived the oil was heating and the dinner was nearly warmed through. I was happily making a mess that someone else would clean up and Amster was merrily hostessing. Wines were poured - I had three different glasses on the counter before me - and Kinect took over the living room.
Big Cuter showed up and found Mr. 8's chess game much improved. Learning to recover from his mistakes is an issue in life as well as on the chessboard these days for Mr. 8; he's very much a work in progress. The seriousness with which they approached the game warmed the cockles of my heart. This will be a tradition for the two of them from now til forever; I can hardly wait until Mr. 8 can really compete.
After an hour or so of dreidle spinning there were cookies and there were latkes. Oh, my, were there latkes. Applesauce and raspberry applesauce and sour cream and a smoked salmon spread were arrayed on the table atop Hanukah placemats . Only the jelly donuts were missing.... I just couldn't drive all the way to Krispy Kreme.
There were kids of all ages and few of them were familiar with the dreidle or the menorah or the whole small-band-of-cave-dwelling-Jews-fighting-Greeks-on-elephants backstory to the miracle of the tiny bit of pure oil which burned for 8 days and nights until more could be prepared to permanently rekindle the Eternal Light. I sent the two littlest girls out to look for the first star and when they returned, beaming and spinning and delighted that they had seen not one but two stars in the sky , it was time to begin.
The lights were dim and everyone was hugging or sitting on someone's lap or leaning onto a shoulder and my heart was overflowing. I told them about my father's many cousins and the big holiday parties I'd attended when I was a little girl as I walked around the table making sure that everyone had a shamash (the beadle - to light the other candles and then take pride of place on the top) and then we did the math to figure out how many years ago this all occurred. The story was told and the miracle recounted. I promised to say the prayers in English and then in Hebrew. We could sing the dreidle song..
It was time to light the menorahs. There were seven of them. It was the 7th night of the holiday so each candelabra held 8 candles. It's a good thing that Amster's love is a firefighter.
The big kids retired to the living room. Beautiful Annie, mother of two wonderful boys, happily skipped down the hall with the Littlest Little One, returning after a while with their faces made up in the girliest of girly ways. The grown-up conversation covered warfare with elephants from India to Hannibal through Alexander. It was a fascinating night.
The children all came to say a proper good-bye, replete with thank you's and hugs or handshakes. Several offered kisses, and no one forgot G'ma. Then a special little girl sidled up to my chair with a request - would I tell her if the miracle happened and the candles kept burning even when they were done after she left?
It was a serious request and required a serious answer. Certainly I would inform her in the unlikely event that the miracle happened again. But it seemed to me that there was a miracle more likely to occur. She might come upon a situation where it felt like she was fighting elephants. If she remembered that small band of warriors, retreating to caves and then bursting forth with strength, then, in that moment, if she felt powerful, she was her own miracle.
I'd never had that thought before, but it felt right and she was listening so intently and then her mom picked it up and we were enveloped in the sense that even the smallest of girls might someday be a hero, might someday be braver than she imagined she could be.
There are all kinds of miracles. Last night I created my own. I wish you all could have joined us, denizens.
HAPPY CHANUKAH !