82) It's A Cowboy Chanukkah!

December 16, 2006

El Milagro:
When I arrived at 1 the place seemed very quiet… many staff were out getting lunch and the next shift of patients haven’t arrived yet. They are putting me on between shifts it seems. Earlier I had called I call Ron the Nurse and he said I could come in at 1 today. Gladys stuck me swiftly and painlessly today and I put the TV channel on college basketball and used Shayna’s I-pod-like radio to continue listening to KUT’s Folkways* Holiday show. I ended up listening to the radio the whole time, drifting in and out of naps through the end of Folkways, through Live Set, and finally elevating back into beta consciousness to listen to All Things Considered, hearing about Mick Kipp’s cayenne pepper and chocolate salsa.**

Afterwards, I drove home to our Chanukkah celebration with the relations.
I usually am in a tired out and “quiet” state when I return from dialysis, so I spent the drive home mentally preparing myself for a party… yawning all the way. As I zip-sped along on the Ben White Freeway, Jingle bells was jingling in my head… “Oh what fun to drive on home, yawning all the way…” And then, I thought up “On the second day of Chanukkah my true love made for me… A Brisket and a Latke partee…”, giggling all the way. What else can I say? Yawning all the way.

I still have some difficulties with getting the X-mas traditions out of my head to make room for the Jewish traditions… so, they all get jumbled up inside. When I first got together with Liz and we decided that we wouldn’t have a Christmas tree in our house (unlike her brother and sister) and I was happily delighted to not have to do that chore every holiday season! Then I found out that she had these ideas about decorating for Chanukkah (The Jews response to Christians decorating for Christmas I believe). When I was a ki
d, I don’t remember my Jewish friend’s parents decorating anything. I just recall their menorahs and prayer shawls. So, now we have shiny banners and sparkly hangings and strings of dreidel lights strung up on the walls... like if a detonated Christmas tree vaporized, flinging it’s decorations out to stick on the walls. It’s really okay and I do like how excited Liz gets about putting all these things up and enjoying them. I especially like the Chanukkah guest towels hanging in our western bathroom with the saloon shutters and Al Harris brood mare painting on the wall. It’s a Cowboy Chanukkah around here.

I arrived home after the first round of gin and tonics and the festivities were in full swing. The younger children were shrieking; the girls were running about being giggly pre-teens; and the adults were finishing their drinks and watching Liz complete the feast of the night. The new puppy, Chelsea, was fairly subdued from her usual frisky self, probably because it is her first party and the noise and running boys are a bit overwhelming. She was spending her time being cuddled by one adult at a time, going from John to Jen to Larry to me. There were snacks that I imme
diately sat and munched on cause I’m always famished when I come home.

We rounded up the kids and lit one candle and the Shamash (the lead candle) on four menorahs, and according to Maya there is one for each kid! Lighting eight candles warmed up the room so much that we finally had to turn on the air conditioner to cool us off. The two bat-mitzvah-studying girls sang the Chanukkah prayers and we adults stood back and delighted at their high but perfectly pitched voices.

Present opening was quick and furious and David (4) asked after the five minute furry, “Is that all? I don’t have any more presents…”. This part of Chanukkah equals one-for-one gift exchange and that is, in my way of thinking, less materialistic than my experience of past Christmas mornings. Spreading the Festival of Lights out over the eight days of the lighting of the menorah also spreads out the gift giving and receiving and somehow keeps more of the religious significance in the holiday. That’s the way I see it. Tracy Rich*** sees it quite differently: “It is bitterly ironic that this holiday, which has its roots in a revolution against assimilation and the suppression of Jewish religion, has become the most assimilated, secular holiday on our calendar.” I see Tracy’s point and at the same time, I am considering Chanukkah from the perspective of a person raised with Christmas and Christianity.

The feast was delicious, as usual, and the kids got to decorate dreidel cookies with electric blue frosting after dinner. Once the cookies were devoured the children resumed their running and shrieking behaviors.

Notes: In at 74.2 and out at 72.1 Kgs.
*Folkways online @
**Mick Kipp’s cayenne pepper with chocolate salsa
***Rich, T.R. (2005) Chanukkah. Retrieved online December 17th from Judaism 101 at

No comments: