Dreidel days

I have never been shy in letting folks know that I'm Jewish, and perhaps that's because I'm generally the minority in the room.  There's something strengthening to your identity to know you've got something that not everybody else has.

I'm speaking, of course, of the ability to spin a dreidel upside down.  I'm a master.

So far for Chanukah (which can be spelled any way you'd like), I've received a shirt/tie, a sweater, and a 2012 Onion tearaway calendar.  Solid.

This is an American Jewish tradition to receive gifts each night of Chanukah.  My siblings and I were threatened as kids with an Israeli Chanukah when, nearing the holiday, we misbehaved or disobeyed our father -- and we'd leap to behave properly!  An Israeli Chanukah meant no gifts, and no one wanted that.

I've got my chanukiyah in the kitchen, set up on aluminum foil for maximum safety.  After singing the blessings (I sing Hebrew so much better than I sing in English), it's family tradition to go through a medley of Chanukah songs before reaching for a gift.

Since I'm celebrating -- or rather, "observing" the holiday -- away from my family, I returned from a Thanksgiving visit to Maryland with my presents all with me.  It's been my choice which one to open each night.  That's easily one of the best parts of Chanukah, going through the presents and picking the perfect one out each night.  Shaking is totally allowed; I'm very big on trying to guess what the gift is before opening it up.

A quick note:  Jewish days all start in the evening and continue through the following day.  Last night was the third night, for example, and today is the third day.  This gets confusing for some people, but look:  Christmas Eve is December 24th and Christmas is December 25th.  Simple.

And now a clip from our traditional family movie for the holiday season:  Happy Chanukah!


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