As I shared before in my blog about Passover, I have always enjoyed the rituals, camaraderie and sense of belonging to a community that comes with Jewish Holiday celebrations. Early on in our marriage, my husband and I were lucky enough to find a group of couple friends who, like us, had one member who was Jewish; and we started celebrating Passover and Hanukkah with this group. My life-long best friend Carrie is among this group, but others are friends we’ve made along the way.
As children were born and families grew, so did our annual celebrations. Over the years, even some of our non-Jewish friends have joined in on what has become our most fun and anticipated party of the year. For a while the the parties were HUGE, but as some families moved away, our group shrunk … and now we are typically about 15.
With Hanukkah, we’ve always taken turns hosting the party, with each of us contributing to the meal. Before we eat, my friend Carrie’s husband Marty (or Uncle Marty, as we call him) leads us all as we sing the prayers and light the menorah (watch this cute video). Then we all gather around a big table for a meal, filled not only with delicious food but also tons of love and laughter. Sometimes the noise level gets so high, but I love it. The whole thing just warms my heart and brings up so many wonderful memories of Hanukkahs past.
Today, all of the kids, who grew up celebrating together, are now grown and are off at school or beyond; but we continue to make the effort every year to come together for these celebrations. Everyone is so busy, but we make a commitment to make this happen – no matter what.
I thought I would share with you some of the recipes that are part of our celebrations.
First, there’s the brisket. I remember my first attempt at making brisket. I found this elaborate recipe in Bon Appetit and was so excited to try it. After all that work it broke apart and was terrible. So the next time t I went right to the source – my mother-in-law Judy. She shared her simple, fool-proof recipe that is fabulous (find the recipe here), and every year it gets rave reviews!
Then I make these Honey Carrots using a recipe that Carrie shared with me years ago.
Next up are Carrie’s latkes, which she makes because I try not to go near hot grease. But these are so delicious … topped with sour cream and applesauce – YUM!
Then our friend Sophie usually makes the Magnolia Bakery banana pudding, which is amazing.
This year it was my turn to host, so night before last 15 friends and family gathered at my house for Hanukkah dinner. We sang, we laughed, we ate, and, as usual, we had the best time. And as everyone left, I once again thought of how grateful I am for these people, and for the celebrations we’ve shared over the years. They have made for the best memories for our families.
Happy Holidays to each of you … and may your new year be filled with love and happiness.