My childhood memories of Chanukah are mixed in with Christmas. It wasn’t as if we celebrated Christmas, we didn’t, well, not really. But like today, many customs go from one religion to another and one culture to another, especially in the United States. To me Chanukah meant Christmas vacation from school, meeting my friends at Cobbs Hill Park to go skating (I spent most of my time trying to keep warm in the cabin with a cup of hot cocoa!), then bringing my friends over to my house to make Italian Christmas cookies cut out into holiday shapes. We were a mixed crowd, Jewish and non-Jewish, but we all loved making these cookies. I loved going to our family’s friends homes to see their Christmas trees as much as I loved lighting out menorah and eating my mom’s delicious, crisp potato latkes, made with my paternal grandmother’s recipe, the one I still use today. I loved getting presents and was especially happy when it was a new game to play. This still holds true for me today. I love playing games!!! I remember the year we got Monopoly. We played teams, my mom and I vs. my dad and sister. No matter what, I always lost. But, that never stopped me!!! We would play the dreidel game for pennies or pretzels. It didn’t matter to me who won, just that we were playing and having fun. That’s the way I still play games today, to have fun. I also remember that when I was maybe 11 years old I made a beautiful menorah in the summer on a family trip to Klein’s Hillside Resort in the Catskills. I took it to Hebrew school with me to show my classmates. It was ceramic and I had painted it white with blue trim. I was so proud of it! On the way home, some of the boys were horsing around and caused me to drop it. Of course it broke. I’m still broken-hearted over losing my precious menorah. Back then, Chanukah meant food and the retelling of the stories of the Macabees and the miracle of the holy oil lasting long enough to replenish it from a neighboring city or town, I don’t remember which, but I really didn’t understand what happen was really about. Today I proudly think of Chanukah as a holiday of rebellion for the cause of freedom. I see it as the precursor that lead to the religious freedoms we enjoy today in America. I also see Chanukah as a break in the bleakness of dark nights and cold weather. A time to gather with family and friends and yes, a time to eat! I wish all of you, my readers, a very Happy, Healthy Chanukah (no matter how you spell it!), a very Merry Christmas and a Healthy One Too and a very Happy Kwanzaa Also With Good Health! Together may we all work for and find peace! For some cookie recipes please follow this link: https://atzimmes.wordpress.com/category/chanukah-cookies/
During the week I will post other Chanukah recipes like my latke recipe and hopefully, if I can find it, the recipe for my favorite Italian Christmas Cookies!
Have a great day!!! I’ll leave you with my feeble attempt at a Chanukah Poem
by Marilyn Sultar
The smell of latkes frying is my favorite perfume.
I crave it like nothing else between here and the moon.
So why do I make it only once a year?
Because it is so special and I don’t want to reduce it to the mundane.
I make it only once a year so the joy of the great miracle should remain.