Lights, camera, dreidels
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Lights, camera, dreidels

The holiday time of year always makes me happy.

I know that I am supposed to be a nice Jewish girl/woman, but I LOVE the Christmas lights and decorations and accoutrements that go with the season. Every year we would go into the city to see the decorated windows at the department stores. The beautiful tree. The Radio City Christmas show. (Don’t tell my oreos about that.) The office across the street from my dad’s first office in Ridgewood had a full-on Santa with his sleigh and reindeers on top of the building. Every year, we Jewish kids would stare at it and wonder why, if our mom collected dolls and other chachkas, weren’t we allowed to have a whole situation going on on top of our roof. It always both upset and puzzled me. As I grew older, and I have said this many times before, the fact that we were Jewish probably save my parents’ marriage because of this time of year. If they weren’t Jewish, my mom would be yelling at my dad to get the tree, he would yell back that he is watching a football game, she would win that argument (and probably everyone that came after that one), and my parents would have parted ways before you could sing Jingle Bells. Fortunately, that is the one fight they have never had.

And I am happy to say that the Chanukah decorations in my neighborhood have gotten a little better. My neighbor, for example, who I have mentioned before, has a delightful giant teddy bear with a yarmulke holding a menorah. He is adorable. And I love that I can see him from my window. When you go walking up Winthrop Road, you would expect to see amazing Chanukah lights, but, alas, you do not. There are only modest menorahs, with their specific numbers of candles ablaze. Though, in another part of town, there is a yard with two giant Chanukah bears, a bearded man sitting on a bench, and a giant menorah. I am actually surprised they don’t have music playing in the background. That would make it perfect.

With quarantine, everything about Chanukah has changed, for the most part. Family Chanukah parties have been canceled or done on Zoom. I don’t think I will be going into the city this year to see all of the magic that happens there. It really is a shame. Last year, I even traveled to Monsey for the experience of the $9 donut (which I did write about). This year, there will be no $9 donuts, for me anyway, but I was lucky enough to have some of my family home for the weekend and we were able to light together. And exchange gifts. Though, what do you call it when you only give the gifts and receive nothing back? (Except, of course, for unconditional love…)

Every year I have been in charge of the gifts. Of course, when the monkeys were little, it was much easier. Now they want things that require me going to a Judaica store. Or white shirts. I can do the white shirts. Even Husband #1 got a white shirt this year, and one delightfully colored plaid shirt. As he is usually the only one in his office, no one else gets to enjoy my selection, but that is OK.

As for me, the gifts I received this year were unique. I had root canal. So fun, and goes with anything. And a few weeks ago, I received the most beautiful piece of jewelry. The kidney stone. Though it felt like a four-hour contraction, it fit perfectly, and I can wear it as a ring or a necklace. Fortunately, it wasn’t a large stone, and I didn’t have to get it insured.

Yes, so far, 50 has been a very exciting age for me. Can’t wait to see what happens this week.

But back to the holiday season. I made the traditional latkes, hand-grated because latkes are only good if they have a little skin in them (kidding), and everyone enjoyed them except for Husband #1 because even though we have been married for more than 25 years, I still have not gotten him to taste one. I don’t understand it either.

Hope all of you had a happy and healthy holiday season, filled with pain-free gifts and delicious donuts.

Banji Ganchrow of Teaneck was very happy with Englewood Hospital’s emergency room, especially because there was no one else there at 5:45 a.m. when she got there.

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