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Today’s post is brought to you by B. Snow and Nancy Levine. It also contains a special surprise by The Long Bean.
As I write this blog, I am going through the last of the possessions in my parents’ home so it can be sold, which is bittersweet for me. I remember that horrible day, Dec. 3rd, 2012, when my life, and my parents’ lives changed forever. I watch the junk removal service take things out to their truck, seeing our lives go by and hoping that on Chanukah, the time that a great miracle happened there, some will happen here, too.
After a year, I finally completed my short story collection, “Silver Dreidels.” It’s about families who are celebrating the holiday and trying to deal with problems in their own lives.
Chanukah commemorates the Maccabees fight for the survival of the Jewish people and their cherished Torah. There were several miracles that happened during that time, and the holiday of Chanukah was celebrated. These days focus on the Jewish people’s eternal connection to God and our ability to choose the right path. The military victory of just a few Maccabees over a huge, well-armed Greek army was the first miracle of Chanukah. Sometimes I feel like I’m fighting a huge army of problems that are never going away. Other times I have hope that that my family, friends and I will persevere like the Maccabees.
Immediately after the military victory, the Jews returned to the Holy Temple only to find it defiled and completely desecrated. Wanting to rededicate the Temple in order to perform the daily services, the Jews needed to light the Menorah with oil certified as pure by the High Priest. One vessel of pure oil was found among the ruins, which contained enough fuel for only one day. Miraculously, the Menorah stayed lit for seven additional days! To celebrate these miracles, Jews light their own smaller menorahs for eight days. They must be placed in a window to show everyone what God did for the Jewish people.
We also commemorate Chanukah by playing the game of dreidel.
Here’s what you’ll need to do this:
- “Gambling pieces” (plastic chips, pennies, small candies, buttons, peanuts in the shell, etc. may be used) for each player
- A dreidel for the group.
How to Play
Distribute an equal number of gambling pieces to each player. Begin play by having each of the players ante up one or two pieces into a common pot. Take turns spinning the dreidel and taking the actions determined by the letter you spin:
Nun: The player takes nothing.
Gimel: The player takes all.
Hey: The player takes half.
Shin: The player puts in.
The letters stand for the phrase: A great miracle happened there.
The winner is the person who collects all the gambling pieces.
One of the things that I did when we had a Chanukah party at my parents’ house was to play Dreidel of Fortune, so I got to be Vanna White and turn the letters around. I loved our parties and every year, I tried to do something creative such as making up parodies to the tune of Christmas songs. Example: “Silver Dreidels” instead of “Silver Bells.”
A New Tradition
In addition to lighting and blessing candles, eating latkes (potato pancakes) or donuts, and exchanging gifts, I think I will try a new tradition with the dreidel game and put a portion of any royalties I make from the sale of “Silver Dreidels” e-books in the kitty and donate it to one of my favorite charities such as The Cure Starts Now, Cancer Family Care, the Alzheimer’s Association or the Free Store/Food Bank.
Silver Dreidels (Rated G)
From “Silver Dreidels”
Dean Elias still didn’t know why he’d let his sister talk him into hiring Shelby as his lawyer. Everything about her screamed rich from the designer satchel she carried to her navy business suit and starched white blouse. She smelled like lily of the valley, the kind that used to grow in his grandmother’s garden. Sitting in his car in the parking lot of the law office as he warmed it up, he thought of her raven hair that had the same scent. When the talc had fallen out of the satchel, and Shelby’s co-workers had laughed, it had made her seem more human. And her story about life in the sixth grade had exposed vulnerability. Okay, so maybe Callyn, his sister, was right. Sometimes Callyn had a lot of common sense, and other times, she had her head in the clouds.
Available on Amazon, where you can also buy “Tasteless Holidays” just in time for Christmas gift giving.
Nancy Goldberg Levine is the author of the Practically Perfect Heroes series featuring Mr. Short, Dark…& Funny, Mr. Tall, Tan…& Tasteless, Tasteless Holidays, Three Strikes—You’re in Love, (a short story collection), and Sweeter Than W(h)ine. She sold her first romance novel, Tempting Jonah, in 1999, and entered the world of Indie publishing in 2012. She has also sold more than sixty short stories. She was in the publishing field for more than twenty years, and now works for the government. Nancy is writing her next book and telling the stories of certain characters that won’t leave her alone. She loves to hear from her readers.
You can find Nancy’s books on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Nancy-Goldberg-Levine/e/B009RV0N50/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1
She also writes a blog, “Laugh with Me,” nancygoldberglevine.wordpress.com, and you can visit her on Facebook: Nancy Levine, or Twitter NancyGLevine@nancyglevine
You can also visit her alter ego, Vi LaNance’s, page on Pinterest:
www.pinterest.com/vilanance and see boards for her characters and books, as well as Vi LaNance’s
So I was chatting with Ana about holiday memories. I remember my mother explaining to me that we have latkes for Hanukkah because they’re cooked in oil, and Hanukkah is about the miracle of the oil.
Well, the true “miracle” of the oil at Hanukkah is how one bottle of cooking oil that should last for months somehow miraculously gets entirely used up on a single batch of latkes. Same with one roll of paper towels. Eight layers (one for each night of Hanukkah?) and yet somehow the oil from the latkes miraculously soaks all the way through onto the stove.
Another oily treat is sufganiyot, which I’d never heard of until about 10 years ago. (For anyone who doesn’t know what they are, they’re like donut holes – deep fried and sprinkled with powdered sugar – with jelly inside. We got some last Hanukkah from the Chasidic Jews who put up electric menorahs in Playa del Carmen and Cozumel and went around lighting candles with Jewish store owners and handing out sufganiyot to tourists like us, who knew what they were. But I digest….)
As a kid, I was dying to have Christmas. Yes, Hanukkah is eight nights of candles and presents, but when you grow up in the US (or any country that has months-long foreplay building up to the Christmas day orgasm), you can’t help but be drawn into the desire for a tree to decorate and stockings to hang from the mantel. My parents let me do stockings once or twice, and I gave gifts to the family one Christmas Eve when my brother and sister were back from college.
I remember my sister sneering a bit at even that small Christmas celebration – she was in her somewhat militant Jewish phase, just before she went to spend her junior year of college in Israel. (Which is how she knew what sufganiyot were years before I did.) The same sister, who, after having kids with her husband, who is Catholic (all Reform Jews end up marrying Catholics – it’s true, look it up), celebrated Christmas for them. She won’t put lights on their house because that would make the neighbors think they celebrate Christmas, even though THEY DO CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS!!1one!
But back to me, because this post is about me. 😛 I held a very successful Hanukkah party for our Harry Potter group several years ago, “Hanukkah at the Goldsteins”. Because there is a character in the HP books, who, if you’re not Jewish, you may have never really taken notice of. Anthony Goldstein is a Ravenclaw (it’s true, look it up), and JK Rowling never explicitly said he was Jewish, but I took reader’s license and made him so. For the party, we had latkes, played a version of dreidel that involved HP trivia, and lit menorahs and exchanged gifts every 20 minutes or so in order to get through all eight nights in one.
It’s no coincidence that Hanukkah and Christmas and Kwanzaa all involve lighting candles. At the time of the year with the longest nights, candles and family and food make everyone a little happier. We need the warmth and light. So whichever holiday(s) you celebrate, I hope it’s/they’re happy, and if you don’t celebrate anything, I wish you warmth and light during the coming months. (Unless you live in the Southern Hemisphere because you’re heading into summer so you’ll have all the light and warmth you want. It’s true, look it up.)
The Long Bean has prepared a special musical challenge for today. In order to play, you’ll need to email a list of the 20 artists and titles included in the clip. Send answers to:
You have until midnight UTC tomorrow, December 17th. (UTC is five hours faster than EST, the typical Ana event time zone. That means you have until 8 PM EST tomorrow night to send your answer.)
- Day 1: Welcome and Introductions
- Day 2: Giving Tuesday
- Day 3: 2nd Annual Holiday Recipe Exchange
- Day 4: Hating the Elf on the Shelf
- Day 5: Blue Christmas
- Day 6: St. Knickerless Day
- Day 7: Beyond Fairytales
- Day 8: Beginner’s Guide to Lesfic
- Day 9: Holiday Carol Sing-a-long
- Day 10: Creating Something Good, Part 1
- Day 11: Healing and Emotional Responsibility
- Day 12: Creating Something Good, Part 2
- Day 13: 3rd Annual White Elephant Gift Exchange
- Day 14: Creating Something Good, Part 3
- Day 15: Holiday Memories