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Dec 3 2010

Friday Night: Hanukkah Shabbat

By at 11:03 am

I have to admit that I just wasn’t ready for Hanukkah this year. It came so close to Thanksgiving that I couldn’t wrap my mind around the fact that only a few days later I would be lighting candles.

And our first night of Hanukkah was actually one of those days that felt like it couldn’t get worse… and then it did. I was really excited about lighting candles with my daughter. Last year, at 5 months old, she had no idea what was going on. But at 17 months? She was going to actually get it!

I rushed home from work in the rain, and when I walked in the door… the babysitter was sitting on the couch, alone. She’d put my daughter to bed because Abigail had fallen asleep in the middle of her dinner. I was heartbroken. Of course sleep for a tired baby trumped my need to celebrate the first night of Hanukkah with her, but still. I just really wanted to celebrate Hanukkah with her.

My husband got home a little bit later, and we lit candles alone (together of course, but it felt like alone because we didn’t have a baby to do it with). And then I ran out the door to my book club. As I walked downstairs, I smelled latkes–my neighbor was clearly celebrating the miracle of the oil. By the time I got outside, it wasn’t just the sting of the cold weather that brought tears to my eyes. I kind of felt like I’d ruined Hanukkah.

I know, I know. Overly melodramatic, right? Yes, in hindsight. But at that moment in time–my baby had no candles, no menorah, no latkes, no presents, no donuts, no gelt, and no dreidel on this first night of Hanukkah in the second year of her life. So I called my mom. And my mom, being one of those people who can always calm me down with her kind wisdom, said, “Maybe that’s why there’s eight nights.”

She was right. So tonight, on night three, we’re doing it up. I wrapped all of the presents (in advance!), I’m getting out the food processor to grate my potatoes, and we’re going to light candles, and sing songs, and maybe even rock out to this amazing video that’s all over the internet:

Happy Hanukkah! (And thanks Mom!)

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2 Responses to Friday Night: Hanukkah Shabbat

  1. Amy Deutsch says:

    Tam, your story is hysterical!

    And for you, and any others who were worried, Hanukkah night #3 was exactly how I wanted night #1 to be. Delicious latkes (thanks to Zoe Singer’s recipe here:, beautiful candles, and a wrapping-paper mess. Now at night #4, my daughter knows exactly what happens after she says “amen”–she looks around for the present!

    Ah, Hanukkah as it should be.

  2. Tam says:

    My son is only 9 mons old and I felt the exact same way. I converted so I always feel like a Jewish impostor – especially now that we have a child. Tarnished menorah, no potatoes, no chankuah wrap (thought I had some…) and a tired baby. My husband polished it up really quick and a sweet neighbor handed me a box of trader joe’s latkes when I brought her over some sour cream. I found some neutral purple paper and we sang, we prayed, and the three of us ate latkes (with side of babyfood applesauce…all I had). We apparently weren’t paying close enough attention to the gift portion of the evening because my son managed to bite (and swallow) some paper before we could swipe it out of his mouth.

    On night #2 our son returned the gift… in his diaper.


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