Have you noticed that I have been a bit less active on the blog since Halloween? (Like last year, and the year before that?) That's because Halloween kicks off a marathon eight weeks of constantly gearing up for something big in our mixed-marriage household.
Thanksgiving is a big deal - our house has always been where people ended up that holiday. When my better half was in the Air Force, the Airmen and junior officers who did not have families or leave came to our house to eat and play football in the yard.
We were sort of a two-person social outreach organization for a lot of years. I never stopped going to college, and I have studied everything from Anthropology to Zoology over the quarter century plus since I graduated high school. A lot of grad students don't go home for Thanksgiving - especially the international students - so classmates and doctoral candidates came to our place, too.
Most of them did not play football, however.
Anyway - right after Thanksgiving, we start getting ready for our birthdays. They are exactly one week apart, in the first two weeks of December.
Frequently, Hanukkah starts during that week. This year, it kicks off the festivities. And Zoe is going on four, so this year it's a big deal to her. She was a little bit too small to spin the dreidels last year, and she remembers. She knows it's coming, and she started wheedling last week (when she saw the candles I bought as I was putting away the haul from my last shopping excursion) to get out the dreidels so she could practice, because she wants to take all the candy from her cousins. I beamed with pride and got the dreidels (right) from my "I don't wear this crap" jewelry box and let her make with the practicing.
The rules for the Dreidel Game are at the end of this post. This is a public service for my gentile friends, because we have been known to make up outrageous rules at your expense. "Gimel! That means you have to turn counterclockwise three times, while hopping on one foot and quacking like a duck!"
Here is my plan for the next two weeks - I am going to shoot for one or two substantive posts each day. I am also going to put up a post with a traditional recipe. Accompanying my recipe will be pictures of the prep process and finished dish. I am every inch a Jewish mother, of the activist, social-justice bent, at my very core. I'm not religious. In general, I'm Jewish like Taco Bell is Mexican food. But I think it is painfully obvious to even the most casual observer that I am, at least in part, defined by the social justice component of reform Judaism.
I will never apologize for that. Instead, it is one of the things I am grateful for. I embrace it, I cherish it, and figure I could do a hell of a lot worse when it comes to selecting a guiding principle for my life.
Now, as promised:
First, each player puts a token the pot. Then, each in turn spins the dreidel. When the dreidel stops, the letter that is facing up decides the fate.
NUN - nothing happens - next player spins the dreidel
GIMEL - player takes all tokens in the pot
HEY - player takes half of the pot
SHIN - player must put one token into the pot