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Toda Raba…

Chrismukkah came and went. As did the New Year with its festivity and promises.

Resolutions? Gave them up for the New Year. Instead, I promise to be a better human both to myself and others. Take more baths of varying scents and expand the shoe collection. Oh, and dance on a few tables before I get too old to do so. Wait–and to emulate The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Tell me you saw the wardrobe in season three–to die! Fashion Gods, I beg of you, bring back gloves and lightweight coats that match our dresses.

What brought about the change in resolutions? Reflection. What brought about reflection? Chrismukkah. My new favorite holiday–the Jewish part anyway. Since childhood, the chaos of Christmas has always been heavy. Too many outings, too may people, too many gifts, too much bustling and too much food. And people. And parties. But this year, infusing a little Hanukkah into Christmas opened my eyes to a new kind of celebration.

As you know, the female chickens both found boys of the Jewish faith. As we never leave anyone standing out in the cold, we decide that beginning this year our family would celebrate both, paving the way for future babies, and current Christians and Wonderers, to expand their horizons. The menorah held a place of prominence near the window. It was surrounded by holly and ribbons and golden orbs, but still. I studied the prayers, put to memory the order of candle lighting and figured Lawyer Boy could teach us the rest.

On Night One, we move the menorah to the table so we can all surround it–something Lawyer Boy’s family did when he was wee. Southern Boy’s Mama, another good Jewish mother, advises aluminum foil under the menorah for drippage. We veer from tradition in that we add a Hanukkah cocktail–a Pina Colada–one of Lawyer Boy’s faves. We rebrand it, HanuKalada. Four Coladas placed, we light the first candle. We give Lawyer Boy the honors figuring he’s best choice. We recite the prayers and then reflect. You are supposed to reflect not just on the liberation of Israel but that the oil, enough for only one candle, burned for eight days. Reflecting on the miracle leads to talk of other miracles, which leads to talk of each other, of old beliefs, new beliefs, those we love and the blessing of being together.

Watching my children light up, figuratively, around the table I think, “This is the miracle. There are no phones. There is only laughter and interaction and thankfulness and joy.”

The next day, as the sun begins to set, one of the trio silently retrieves the menorah. Another gets the foil. And, again, the prayers pair with laughter, talking, banter. By the third night, Baby Chicken cries out, “It’s almost sunset. Get the menorah,” with all the relish of her five-year-old self clamoring to see Santa’s bounty.

Each night, the four of us stopped, got quiet, conversed, shared and laughed. Try it for yourself. Find something that removes the phones, the computers, the bright lights, the rush and the hurry–something that connects you to the people around the table. Thank you to all my Jewish friends; for sharing your holiday, your history and your love. I couldn’t have done it without you.

And I surely would not be the better without it. Toda Raba, sweet friends.


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