Day 249 - And the oil totally burned for eight days. No joke. No, this isn't "Jewish Christmas."
Tonight was the first night of Chanukkha (I can never spell it either). We used the menorah that my mom bought for me when I was a kid (and she worked at the shul... I think she was probably their only gentile employee... wait, did I tell this story already last year? Has this blog been going on for over a year?), and To Be a Jew, the same "I'm not an observant Jew and need to look up the prayers every time" book that my dad always used. Tradition is good, even if we're technically celebrating the victory of terrorist religious fundamentalists over cosmopolitans (assimilationist cosmopolitans, though!).
M and I will be heading up to my aunt Connie and Sharon's on Christmas Day this year. Christmas Eve I'll be making the newly-traditional Schober-Levine Christmas goose (with fried potatoes and red cabbage with raisins, yum!). It's nice to have a little thing that we do with just our little family.
Family can be difficult. I'm certainly not the easiest son to have - I can be self-absorbed at the best of times (remind me to tell you about the Jamesway Father's Day Card contest some time, an occasion on which I acquitted myself particularly shamefully), and it's easy to annoy me (and I have difficulty hiding when I'm annoyed - that's why Ruth is the peacemaker in training, not me). So, despite the fact that my folks and I generally have nothing against each other, we can tend to make each other tense. I love them anyway, and appreciate all they do for us, even if we all have very definite ideas about things that rarely mesh.
Trying to remain connected to family and tradition can be tough. When I was a kid, every year, we'd all pack into my dad's Ford Econoline van (with the racing stripes my brother and I installed one summer) and drive 4-5 hours up to Western MA to see my grandparents. Things have drifted since then... my brother and I live farther away and have things of our own to attend to, my grandmother can't travel very easily, my grandfather died a few years back (7 actually... wow), and things just... drift. This year, we'd hoped to travel up to Boston to see M's folks, but with their work and M's work and everything it didn't work out. And it reminds us how easy it is to go eight months, and how much Ruth has grown in that time. Unfortunately, M's grandmother has only ever met Ruth once, and only for a few minutes, and hasn't gotten to the library to read this blog. We took the trek out to see my grandmother in CA over the summer, and we hope that won't be the only time she gets to meet Ruth, either.
Family can be difficult. I guess you do your best and hope for relatively few regrets, and that your daughter eventually has a child to whom she can explain her ambivalent relationship to that oil menorah.
Oh, and I've been listening to Erran Baron Cohen's Songs in the Key of Hannukha, which is surprisingly good (worth it just for the Ladino songs).