July 21, 2024
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July 21, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

It is that time of year. The time of year when doughnuts are everywhere you look, toy catalogues fill your mailbox and the question “What are we getting for Chanukah?” is asked one too many times to remain sane. It is the time of year when people flood the malls like they are going out of business, pop-ads keep, well, popping up and you want it to snow because it is December, but you really don’t want it to snow because then you have to shovel. Snow is slippery. But since we are in the throes of the holiday season and spirit, we might as well discuss the whole Chanukah thing.

In theory, Chanukah is a great holiday. We celebrate miracles. The miracles of the few defeating the many. The miracle of the day’s worth of oil burning for eight days (or is it nights?). What could be bad about miracles? We pray for them in our daily lives, we pray they happen to loved ones who are sick, we pray they help our sports teams… Miracles are good. What happens when we ask for a miracle and it doesn’t happen? Life goes on and we keep the faith because that is what Jews do. Well, first we complain that the miracle did not happen and then we go on. So Chanukah is good and miracles are good. That is all on the spirituality front. I won’t be getting ordained any time soon, no worries.

Due to the whole “oil thing” that this holiday is focused around, we eat foods that are made in oil. Because every Jewish holiday has to have some sort of food theme in order to make it work. Even fast days, when we aren’t supposed to eat anything, are focused around what we should eat before the fast and then what we are breaking our fast on. If you are on Facebook before a fast, you are guaranteed to have at least a quarter of people’s posts based on what they are eating before the fast; and then people asking what people are making for after the fast. Watermelon good, watermelon bad. Coffee good, coffee bad. Pasta good…you get the point. Anyway, it is a miracle that more people do not have heart attacks during the week of Chanukah. How can a doughnut that is so cute and innocent, that is filled with so many different kinds of goodness, be so very bad for you? And the ones that don’t taste oily almost make you forget that they are deep fried in oil so you keep eating them. Okay, I keep eating them—you probably don’t—but someone has to keep all of our local kosher supermarkets in business.

Then there are the latkes. Oil, oil everywhere. Literally, everywhere. It is amazing how far oil can fly. But nothing says “I love you” more than homemade latkes. When you don’t have a Cuisinart and you hand-grate the potatoes and perhaps get a teeny, tiny bit of finger in the mix, that is an even greater display of love. And really gross. Husband #1 is the only one in our home who does not eat latkes, which doesn’t surprise anyone who knows him, but sons #1, 2 and 3 eat them, so I make them and that is all I have to say on the oil front.

The presents. I know that I am not the brightest person and don’t remember much from school, but where in the story of Chanukah did the gift giving come in? I must have cut that class because for the life of me I do not remember learning about that. This year, to avoid my boys complaining about their gifts (I know that only my kids complain and that your kids are perfect, don’t worry), I sent them the following text, “Dear Boys: Please text me your gift requests before 12 a.m. I promise to honor at least one of each of your requests. Thank you. Love, Mom.” Smart, right? That way, it is on my phone and I won’t forget what they asked for.

Yup, that didn’t work. They did not take me seriously. One boy asked for a Gemara signed by some rabbi (I think he was kidding), one boy asked for me to sing a duet with my father-in-law (I think he was kidding) and one boy asked for a new iPhone (I think he was kidding). So I will try my best not to cry in front of them when they don’t like what I got them and truly cherish the fact that we will all be together for the holiday of lights. Because all kidding aside, even though they don’t teach that part in school either, there is nothing like being able to light the menorah with your family around you. Even if none of them realize that you do not have your own menorah. Hey, Boys…I have a gift idea for you…

Happy Chanukah and may all of the miracles you wish for come true.

Banji Ganchrow ordered her own Chanukah presents this year so she would not be disappointed when no one got her anything.

By Banji Latkin Ganchrow

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