Monday, December 10, 2018

Hannukah 2018

lame store-bought excuse for suvganiot, given how delicious my homemade version is...

it's the last night of Hannukah, and it's been a rough week, so I'm glad it's over, but I'm also feeling like I need to take stock of how my holiday panned out, now that I have a minute to sit back and think about it.  so here's a quick rundown of how it went:

1st night - it's a week ago, already, so I barely remember what happened, but I DO know my teen was away with his sports team until around 3pm, after which he had a 3 hour band rehearsal.  I lit the electric menorah in the window before we left for rehearsal so we'd enjoy seeing it's glow in the night when we returned, but there was no holiday food, or presents (other than the gift of being together, safe, sheltered, with electricity, food, water, our good health, and our cat, which is plenty good enough for both of us, but I'm sure the cat thinks she could have done better).

2nd night - the teen came home early from after-school sports practice, and discovered a package in the mailbox from his dad (no note or anything) with a cool pair of wireless earbuds in it.  we got out our 'proper' menorahs to light actual candles (we still light the electric one, but it doesn't feel right to me unless we light the real ones), and made delicious latkes for dinner.

3rd night - I completed an important overdue task before indulging in some much needed self-care (good meal/hot shower/clean clothes), and went to the laundromat while the teen was at music lessons & band rehearsal, where I ran into and chatted with a newer friend, before visiting the home of a much older friend, until it was time to pick up the teen and go home.  I think we forgot to light the electric menorah before we went's pretty disappointing when you pull up in the driveway and those pretty lights aren't there to cheer you.

4th night - really rough...the teen had a spot of trouble at school, and as a result, was not allowed to compete with his team in their event after school that day, which broke his poor dear heart, but he learned that his less-intelligent actions can have serious repercussions, no matter how remorseful you feel in retrospect.  he needed to crawl into my lap (all 130+ pounds of him) and have a good cry about it, too.  we lit candles, but they burned down in the kitchen while we cuddled on the couch watching a movie and eating crap food.

5th night - we splurged and went out for a meal ($30 total, tip included).  another rehearsal night.  we may have lit candles when we got home, and I'm pretty sure we remembered to light the electric ones before we left.

6th night - the teen skipped sports practice to come straight home from school because he had to report to the venue for his gig by 4pm.  and there were gifts for him!  socks and comfy pajamas from some dear friends!  he did great at his performance, but I felt barred from entering the venue to watch him so...I didn't feel particularly celebratory, or supported by my 'community'.  it was an electric menorah night, and a rough one, at that.

7th night - I was gifted with the concern of several of the other parents at the music school who were wondering what had happened between the school and me to cause such bad blood between us so suddenly after 5 years, and their insistence that I offer those administrators (and the idiots who sowed the seeds of discontent with them) a big 'fuck you' by standing proudly in the middle of the room to watch my son perform.  while it was nice to feel seen, heard, and supported, I was too fragile to do it due to being blown off two nights in a row by the teen's friend who said they'd be there, but wasn't.  the teens are too young to drive, so it's not really the kid's fault for not making it, and who knows what their mom was struggling with to tell me she would bring her kid to the show two nights in a row, and not only Not show up, but Not call to make any kind of excuse...well, that's pretty insulting to me, and disrespectful of my time, and makes me have to reconsider how close I want to be with her in the future, as this isn't the first time this kind of thing has happened between us.  knowing one's worth - or being reminded to respect it - is an important gift in and of itself.  the teen performed another great show, and his gift was his mama's pride.  seeing our almost fully lit menorah in the window as we arrived home was a comforting sight.

8th night - we took the day off.  we literally laid around in our pajamas and did nothing other than watch some television shows we borrowed from the library, and munch on handfuls of cereal straight out of the box.  since we had no plans of any kind (for a reason - I wanted us both to have a break after our busy week), I had hoped that This would be the day that I would somehow magically have the energy and fortitude to make 500 latkes and 1000 suvganiot to celebrate Hannukah the way I know how - with lots of yummy fried goodness, and song (I'm still without the resources to provide material gifts, but yes, that's generally a part of it, too).  we didn't.  we did have to run out to the grocery store, and while we were there, I picked up the last, pathetic, getting stale, jelly donut in the case to serve as the symbol for our crumpled-wax-bag of a Hannukah this year.  we lit the electric menorah, ate our sad, commercial-grocery-store-bakery-bland, overly sugary donut (pictured at the top of the post), made a mockery of singing a few verses of various Hannukah songs ridiculously loudly, high-fived, and called it a holiday.

in stating my disappointment with myself at not having made the time to either decorate, or cook traditional foods, the teen wisely reminded me that it doesn't have to be Hannukah to make latkes or suvganiot, and I replied, "no, I only make them once a year, and that once is on Hannukah, and Hannukah's over now, so...I'm not doing it."  I knew in advance it was going to be a hard holiday for us due to my lack of financial wealth, a particularly bad case of 'winter blues/seasonal affective disorder', and the work/school/extra-curricular schedule, but there were still times that I could have made cooking a priority instead of plopping down in my chair to check facebook, or watch part of a movie.  there was definitely some gratuitous lounging around this week as I was having a hard time processing all of the emotional baggage into manageable packages so I could function at a base level, if not much more.  mainstream society doesn't often leave much room for cultural norms that fail to coincide with the status quo, and I'm not surrounded by a large and loving family/community that makes it easier to be festive by all being involved in preparing for the same party.  in fact, the one party I Was preparing for (my son's gig) left me out in the cold, and feeling the very opposite of joyful and connected.

still, all in all...the teen and I, in our tiny little two-person family, made some effort at keeping the traditions alive, which is better than not having done it at all.  the teen got some gifts that he needed (and loves), and even a gift that he wanted (and loves).  he sang his heart out, played the best solo of his life two nights in a row, and gracefully accepted some hard lessons.  I got reminded how important it is to be with people who cherish me rather than tolerate me, and that even though it generally feels like I'm out here all alone all the time, there are still folks who are willing to come out and support me every now and again.  the teen and I joked and laughed together, the way we always do, because even though our lives can be hard, we do our best to have fun and enjoy it anyway.  and to be fair, the one batch of latkes I did make were delicious (even if I did forget the sour cream and applesauce).  now it's time for me to retreat into my best version of hibernation, do some serious inner journeying for the Solstice, avoid the madness of late December consumerism disguised as religious posturing, and look towards celebrating my 50th birthday soon after the new year.  I hope it has something wonderful in store for us, we sure could use some 'wonderful' around here.

happy winter holiday season, whatever you celebrate!



  1. Miriam, I had come back to read this again and thought I would leave you a message. I love the way you and the teen even in your two person family keep tradition alive. You know you are loved by me and I try and help when I can.

    It would be different if I lived in the same state but, I don't. I made a life here because this is where my husband's job took him.


    1. we don't always succeed, and he's not growing up in the tradition the way I did, but we try. thank you for always being there, for more than 30 years of friendship. that is the true gift. <3


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