8 Crazy Nights
Chanukah can always be felt in the atmosphere. As soon as it starts getting darker earlier and the chill sets in - it's Chanukah season. Forget winter, it's not even about that. It's the warmth of the people during the holiday season, the extra smiles, the extra kindness... It's the way we all huddle up with our families, and the way our natural nesting instincts set in, forcing us to bring extra warmth and beauty into our homes. Whenever this happens, I wind up feeling such strong nostalgia for my childhood. Chanukah was my absolute favorite time of the year (that seems to be pretty much the common consensus of most of my friends and family as well), and I just loved sitting around the flames with my family, snuggled next to my mom or my dad, singing Chanukah songs and talking about what we were going to buy with our gelt. I can still feel the excitement, smell the burning oil, and taste my mothers latkes. And I so much want to create something as warm of a memory for my own children!
When I was a kid there was no such thing as holiday-party-hopping. We didn't trek out to a different Chanukah party every night. We didn't look forward to massive concerts, or carnivals, or parties. We spent most nights of Chanukah alone together as a family in our living room; eating, singing, talking, and playing dreidel. And we loved it. Nowadays I feel like we run from party to party (and don't get me wrong - it's great fun!), and everything is about how much bigger and better each event will be. We had a crazy-good week hopping from one Chanukah party to another, but even with day-time napping and night-time partying eventually it all got pretty exhausting...
Of course, hopping from one family party to another is still just simple and lovely enough to be calming, warm, and heaps of fun at the same time. I'm so grateful for all the family I have here in town, we spent many nights at different family members, and having all the cousins band together in lighting, in singing, and in celebration was such a wonderful way to celebrate the miracle of light. Freida always loves getting together with family (they're all boys around here, so she pretty much gets the princess treatment :), and I love watching her relationships with all of them change and grow.
Since Manasseh's birthday falls out smack-dab-in-the-middle of Chanukah, it always one-ups the fun even more!!
But! My all-time favorite night was spent alone with my own family in the quiet of our cozy little home - celebrating the holiday together over Freida's favorite dinner of creamy mac 'n cheese. We played dreidel for the first time all Chanukah, and it was weirdly fun! Naturally, Manasseh had to up the ante on the winners pot by slapping down some more-serious-than-chocolate-gelt bars. :) Freida was obsessively devoted to only spinning her hot pink dreidel, and Hudi was all-eyes and giggles over the colorful spinning tops swirling across and around the dinner table...
Just hanging out with the girls in their jammies around the menorahs was so intensely enjoyable for me! I get such serious pleasure out of having the time to simply relish in their great little existences...! Felt so wonderful to celebrate our own little growing family, and I look forward to making a point of sitting out one more party next year in leu of this family merriment!
Hope your Chanukah was filled with love, light, and lots of laughter!! To family!