Monday, December 28, 2009

The Menorahty Holiday

Ever since my generation of family started having children of our own, we cousins have been congregating to share kidlet birthdays and other occasions. Our kids are all legal adults now and we've not sung Happy Birthday as a group since the youngest one turned thirteen but we still make a point of getting together each year to celebrate Hanukkah.

This year our numbers were smaller than usual but we still enjoyed latkes and other goodies, great conversation, good laughs and a gift exchange at my cousin, Barb's home earlier this month.

Once lunch hit our bellies, a few plates of treats came out along with coffee and tea.

They look really good, don't they?

Everyone at the party was required to bring an inexpensive gift. It may be useful, tacky or delicious. The gifts are left untagged and placed in a pile.

Without peeking, each guest selects a Scrabble tile from a glass bowl.

Mine was O.

If the A tile was selected, that person chooses a gift first. Once the gift is opened, the next letter is called and that person has the option to steal the first gift or select a new one. The play continues in this manner until all gifts are opened. Often there are many "thefts" of popular items like chocolate.

This happy little Buddha was popular with my son, which is a good thing because he ended up taking it home.

It was the second night of Hanukkah, and so two candles of the menorah were to be lit.

The Shammash (or attendant) candle is used to light them and remains lit and nearby but separate.

A few songs were sung by those who knew them. My aunt and cousin went off to the kitchen to play their usual game of Scrabble, and chit chat continued until it was time to head home.

Belated Chappy Chanukkah and Many Menorah!

Please note that I won't be doing a Posts of the Week tomorrow. I just haven't spent enough time reading and compiling posts but I should be back on schedule for next Wednesday though.


Dave said...

That food looks great Hilary! Seems like you had a great time! - Dave

Anonymous said...

Happy Hanukkah!! I love that knights candle holder. wow! Beautiful. And since I'm into the "knight" thing, I'd love to have one. Thanks for sharing your happy festivities!
The Bach

Linda Bob Grifins Korbetis Hall said...

Colorful, Delightful, and Fancy...

Thank you for sharing your food, culture, and traditions...
It is a treat to be here.
just in case you wonder where I am.

Brian Miller said...

what fun...the food looks great, and sounds like the company was too. looking forward to a great new year for you and your fam...

Lori said...

How perfect. That food looks delicious. I love your description of your family celebration and the simple gift game you idea to keep things simple. I enjoyed learning and reading about Hanukkah. Thank you! Happy Hanukkah Hilary. XX Lori

Gary's third pottery blog said...

I would say those treats look mighty good :)

Doc said...

I love doing a gift exchange that way... glad that you had a great Hanukkah!

Sueann said...

What a wonderful celebration you have had with your family! And the food looks so yummy!

NJ said...

Happy Hanukkah Hilary. It looks like it was a lot of fun.

Leah J. Utas said...

Sounds like wonderful family time.

the Bag Lady said...

This was a lovely post, Hilary! Sounds like a great time was had by all, and those treats look yummy!

Tabor said...

We did that gift exchange at work for many years and it can be quite cut throat and silly as well. Your Hanukkah sounds very nice being celebrated with your loved ones.

Hilary said...

Looks like you had a great time......the treats looked delish!!!
I think the gift exchange is a great idea....

imbeingheldhostage said...

How fun. It was like I was there, but without the calories. Actually, that's the part I'm NOT smiling about because those treats are mouthwatering!
Happy Hanukkah!!!!

Mental P Mama said...

That menorah is beautiful! And so are the treats. The Buddha would have been my choice as well. He looks like the prosperous one, too!

ellen abbott said...

I'm glad you had a great holiday. I love to see the menorahs all lit up. I've done that gift exchange before and it can be a lot of fun. A group of us did one once where we all picked a gift and then the hostess read a story and every time she said left, we passed to the left, and right, we passed to the right. Funny though, with the number of people and the story, everyone ended up with their original gift they had selected from the pile. So what gift did you end up with?

Daryl said...

Oh I am drooling those petite fours look luscious ... and that is a beautiful menorah ...

Bachelor .. those are not knights those are the bad guys storming the temple

Fragrant Liar said...

Mmmmmmmmmm! That food looks yummy! With all the holiday food floating around (since Halloween), my sweet tooth always gets bigger (if not more painful, since I can't resist stuff like that).

You neversaid what your gift was, did you?

Happy Chanukkah!

LadyFi said...

Everything looks delightful!

Sounds like a wonderful time was had by all.

Happy Hanukkah!

Bogey said...

What a marvelous and mouth watering treat Hilary. Loved the simple gift exchange idea. Very clever and fun. I don't think it is ever too late to share in the celebrations. That's why I like to spread it out over time.

Happy Chanukah Hilary

Suldog said...

I love the menorah with the mini-Macabees all lined up. Never saw one like that. And those are mini-cheesecakes, right? They look damn good.

A belated (but sincere) Chappy Chanukah, Chilary!

Anonymous said...

Happy Holidays!! I love the idea of the gift exchange!

Teri and her Stylish Cats said...

A wonderful, close, tasty celebration you had...thanks for sharing it with us!

Michael said...

Looks Delish! Happy Holidays!

steviewren said...

The treats look wonderful. I bet there weren't any leftovers.

Put me down as a admirer of that Menorah as well.

Sounds like your Hanukkah was a good one.

Reb said...

That is a lovely Menorah Hilary and the treats all look wonderful.

Jo said...

"A few plates of treats...?" Those look absolutely fabulous, and the menorah is exquisite.

Happy Hanukkah!

(Don't you just love the random gift exchange game?)

Phyllis E said...

And a Happy belated Chanukkah to you, too. Wish we could have been there to share the food and fun. I sure miss all those family gatherings.

And, of course, Scrabble tiles are the most appropriate way in our family to "draw straws".

How were the latkas?

Cuzzie P

Frank Baron said...

It was a very nice time. I'm glad I went. Still totally surprised that nobody stole my ice scraper though....

Anonymous said...

Matchless phrase ;)

Land of shimp said...

Oh my goodness, what are those treats? They look absolutely fabulous, and I hope you and your family had a wonderful time.

The picture of the menorah is interesting, I've never seen one quite like it, and my sense of scale was completely off. I thought it much larger until I saw the picture with the hand.

It's lovely to have traditions, and thank you for sharing yours!

Anonymous said...

Your family traditions are beautiful. I love the gift exchange idea (I wonder if we could make that work in my husband's family? Hmmmmm...) and the Menorah is gorgeous -- just like your photographs!
Thank you for sharing with us. :)

Having friends and family to share the holidays make it ever so much more special.

MaggieGem said...

Sounds like everyone had a grand time! The pictures are just lovely, I feel like I was there with you! Thanks for sharing :-)

blunoz said...

Hilary, Happy belated Hanukkah! Sounds like you had a fun time with your family.

Rosaria Williams said...

Happy Hanukkah!
All these rituals keep us connected to generations of people who shared similar beliefs, and cared enough to pass them on to the next generation.

Karen said...

Looks like a wonderful time. Love it when family hangs out. Oh, the goodies made me hungry, too.

Elizabeth Bradley said...

A scrumptious post to be sure!

Shammickite said...

There's nothing like getting together with friends and family for the special celebrations that occur throughout the year. Happy Hannukah to you, Hilary! I joined my son's MIL at her house for for Christmas dinner.... there were 20 of us around the table, including 5 little children and a brand new baby, and a couple of teenagers. Lots of noise and lots of laughter. I am envious of all you lucky people who have families... I have my 2 sons and their lovely wives and babies, and I love them dearly, but no siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles etc, just me! So famly gatherings are rather sparsely populated!

Hilary said...

• Thanks, Dave. We sure did. :)

• Thank you, Bach. I'm sorry to disappoint, but those are Maccabees defending the temple.. not knights. I bet you like it anyway though. ;) Thanks for the kind wishes. :)

• Welcome, Ji and thanks for the kind comments. Much appreciated. :)

• Thanks very much, Brian. And to you and yours also. :)

• Lori, thanks so much. I'm glad you enjoyed the post. I'm glad you were able to join me. :)

• Gary, they so were! :)

• Thanks, Doc. I'm glad you enjoyed the post. :)

• Thank you, SueAnn. It truly was a great time. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Thank you, NJ. It was indeed. :)

• Leah, it always is. Thanks for the visit. :)

• Thank you, Baggie. My family knows how to do parties right. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Thanks kindly, Tabor. Yes, it can get quite crazy with all the "stealing" but such a blast. :)

• Thank you, Hilary. We always manage to have a good time when we get together. :)

• IBHH, the no calorie part would be a real plus, if only it were true. Thanks so much for the kind words. :)

• Thanks, MPM. The Buddha is indeed prosperous - much how I felt after those goodies. Thanks for the visit. :)

• Ellen, that sounds like a fun part of the gift exchange. I'll have to keep that in mind. I ended up with a wooden back scratcher. It's not a bad choice. Thanks so much for the kind words. :)

• Daryl, they were incredibly delicious. I'll let my cousin, Barb (sister of blogger Phyllis - below) know that you like her menorah. I can't imagine it's the bad guys being depicted though. I'm thinking it's the Maccabees defending the temple. :)

• Fragrant Liar, thank you. You're very lucky if it's only your sweet tooth expanding since Halloween. For me, it's my hips. Thanks for the kind words. :)

• Thanks very much, Lady Fi. :)

Hilary said...

• Thanks so much, Bogey. It was a fun way to celebrate and has become a family tradition. Thank so much for the kind words. :)

• Suldog, thanks very much. You're right on both counts - mini-Maccabees and mini-cheesecakes. You know your history and your munchies. ;)

• Thanks, Rain. It was a great time. :)

• Terri, I'm glad you could join me. Thanks. :)

• Cabo, it was. Thank you. :)

• Stevie, I believe that some of those treats were actually frozen leftovers from a wedding about a month prior. I will pass your menorah-admiration along to my cousin. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Thanks, Reb. Much appreciated. :)

• Thanks kindly, Jo. I'm glad you think so. I DO love the gift exchange. It's always a lot of laughs. Thanks for the kind words. :)

• Thank you, Cuzzie Phyllis. I wish you had been there too. The latkes were delicious, of course. And you're so right about the Scrabble tiles. Frances and your mother had a good game going when Frank and I headed out. Thanks for the visit, Cuz. :)

• Frank, I'm glad you went too. And I thought that you were just happy to know that someone stole the gift that you brought.. that gadgety thing. :)

• Thank you, Anon. I'm glad you liked that. ;)

• Shimp, they were incredibly delicious and there were still some left over when we were done with them. You should have been there! Funny how difficult it can be to discern the size of things in close up photos, eh? Actually, my cousin just has an enormous hand. ;) Thanks so much for sharing our day. :)

• KC, I'm sure you could make that gift exchange work. When our kidlets were young, we made sure that we had gifts specifically for them anyway. Now they're all old enough to take part in the more cut-throat exchange. Thanks very much for your always-kind words. You never fail to make me smile. :)

• MaggieGem thanks for joining me. I'm happy to have you along. Thanks for the kind words. Much appreciated. :)

• Thanks, Kevin. We sure did. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Lakeviewer, you're so right about the connections via rituals. It's the way we feel a part of something bigger. Thanks so much for the visit and kind words. :)

• Karen, I'd share some of those goodies with you if I could. Thanks for stopping by to comment. :)

• Thanks kindly, Elizabeth. Much appreciated. :)

• Shammie, thanks for the good wishes. I'm sorry you don't have a large same-generation family to enjoy for the holidays but so happy for you that you have your children and grandchildren to share your occasions. Thanks so much for stopping by. It's like you were there at the party with me. :)

Unknown said...

What a fun post! Happy New Year to you Hilary with all Best wishes for 2010! :)

Joanna Jenkins said...

Happy belated Hanukkah to you. Latkes and sweets are a great way to celebrate. And your Menorah is lovely :-)

My family did the "white elephant" gift exchange this year too. We had a blast!

Happy 2010 to you and yours!

ds said...

Beautiful menorah (thank you for the explanation), yummy food, and such a great way to exchange gifts among a large number of people. Excellent fun!
All best wishes for health and happiness to you and your family (this includes Frank and Benny) in the coming year!

Anita said...

What a wonderful time to spend with friends and family, playing games, eating, and reflecting on the meaning of the holidays.
I don't know as much as I should about Hanukkah, but I suspect that I will learn more and more in time.
Glad you had a good time!

Anonymous said...

The food looked delicious! Hilary, I loved hearing about your holiday and hope it was fabulous!

Anonymous said...

"Belated Chappy Chanukkah and Many Menorah!" to you too! :)

You crack me up, Hilary. I bet family get-togethers like this are alot of fun with you there.

Blessings of the season, friend.

Unknown said...

Happy Hanukkah Hilary! And thanks for sharing your traditions with us. Love the gift thefts; what did you keep?

JC said...

Great post, thanks for sharing. The foods look great. Happy belated Hanukkah to you. Praying God's blessings for you in 2010.

lime said...

it sounds like it was a wonderful time!

i love that menorah too. i really enjoy seeing the creative configurations for them and i like how that one tells a little of the story.

happy belated hanukkah!

Anonymous said...

I think i gained 5 pounds just looking at the desserts....

Happy Holidays and happ new year!

Tom Bailey said...

Those look very fancy and I like the way that you threw in the scrabble letter O.

I hope that your holiday season is going well.


photowannabe said...

I felt the pound attach to my hips just looking at those goodies.
This time I think I got the spelling correct. Happy Hanukkah!
It sounds like you had a wonderful family time.
I haven't seen a menorah like your before. Is there a story behind it?
Happy New Year too Hilary.

photowannabe said...

If I had read some of the comments I would have gotten the answer to my question. the Macabees storming the temple, of course. If I had thought about it I would have remembered too.
But, as I said before I have never seen a Menorah like that one before...interesting.

Susan said...

I love playing that game! No pressure to get the perfect over priced gift for every and anyone and lots of fun to boot!

Country Girl said...

I love the different traditions that I've come across in the blogs of so many. Yes, we play this same game. Maybe we should have the same rules as you as to what to bring as gifts. So often, most of us get sensible items, nice things like a set of unique glassware. And then there are those that only bring funny things, things that nobody wants!

Hilary said...

• Michael, thank you, and all the very best to you too. :)

• Joanna, thanks! The menorah belongs to my cousin but I made sure she had the link to see the kind comments. The gift exchange is a lot of fun, isn't it? Thanks for the good wishes. The same for you and yours. :)

• Thanks ever so kindly, DS. I shall pass your good wishes along to Frank and Benny. The exchange was indeed a lot of fun to do.. it always is. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Thanks very kindly, Anita. We always do have a great time when we get together. Thanks for the visit and the very kind words. :)

• Meredith, thanks for joining me. I'm always happy when you come along. :)

• Thanks, Sandra. We have a few punsters in the family. It must be a genetic thing. ;) Thanks for your always kind words. :)

• Thanks kindly, Jane. I ended up getting and keeping a wooden back-scratcher. Thanks for the visit. :)

• Thanks very much, JC. Very much appreciated and right back at you. :)

• Thank you, Lime. There are so many lovely, creative menorahs out there. This one does depict a bit of its history though. Thanks for the kind words. :)

• Coopernicus, only five? Lucky you! ;) Thanks for the kind wishes and right back at you! :)

• Tom, thank you. The season is going quite well, thank you. I wish the same to you and yours. :)

• Sue, you're doing far better than Cooperincus if you're only struggling with one pound after all that! Don't fret over the spelling.. there are many ways to spell it. Hanukkah, Chanukkah are just a couple. The story behind the menorah itself would have to be told by my cousin as it's hers but basically
it depicts the Maccabees defending their temple from the storming Syrians. Thanks always for stopping by. :)

• Susan, you're so right about that. It works out quite well. Thanks for the visit. :)

• Kate, we set a very low price ceiling of $5 and that keeps anyone from feeling like they've given more than they've received or vice verse. It always works out quite well.. with lots of laughs. Thanks for stopping by. :)

Kathleen said...

Wow! Now that sounds like terrific fun! We played a similar game at work--"the dice game". Everyone brings a wrapped gift, puts it in the middle, then the dice go around madly. Whenever someone throws a double, they take a present. The second round (after all gifts are claimed, opened, and displayed) is timed; throwing doubles is a ticket to steal. Fast, furious, and wildly fun. I think we'll have to introduce the scrabble version, since a bunch of us are editors!!!! Thank for sharing!

Nancy said...

Sounds wonderful, Hilary! Happy Hanukkah!

Kappa no He said...

That is the most beautiful menorah I've ever seen. Happy Hanukkah, Hilary!

Jeni said...

I LOVE those mini-cheesecake things! Never made them but the mother of my older daughter's ex-boyfriend always made them and always sent a plate of 'em up to our house with her son! Another reason I really liked him -a lot! I also love the various traditions involved with the holidays -be they of the Jewish faith or Christian -to observe the holidays by the keeping of them just means so much. My grandma always had special foods she prepared in line with our Swedish heritage. I have no idea how to fix some of the foods we always had, some of which can only be had via special order online which makes them pretty cost prohibitive now and I miss that for myself and that my children aren't aware of the meanings behind some of those foods now too. Everything about your celebration looks lovely and also, quite scrumptious too!

ethelmaepotter! said...

I love the gift exchange idea and will try to incorporate that into my family's Christmas next year.
I agree with all who love the menorah - it is quite unique and totally spectacular. And those treats - OMG YUMMY!

Hilary said...

• Kathleen, the dice version sounds like a really fun way to play it too. It seems it's a popular game all over. Thanks for sharing. :)

• Thanks, Nancy. Much appreciated. :)

• Kappa, I'll let my cousin know that you think so. Thanks. :)

• Jeni, thanks so much for your comments. Food does seem to be a central part of celebrating holidays. I think you would be able to find a number of classic Swedish recipes by Googling for them. Or by looking through Amazon to find a book. It might be worth a try. Thanks very much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. :)

• EthelMae, thanks so much for stopping by. I'm glad you liked what you saw. I wish I could share the goodies with you. They were indeed quite yummy! :)

Boozy Tooth said...

Here I am as usual, bringing up the rear with comment #63!

63 COMMENTS!!!! How fun is that!

We used to do a similar gift swap at my office Christmas parties. For some reason it was known as a "Chinese Fire Drill." Don't have any idea if that's even correct, but we all knew what it meant. It's a lot of fun to watch those gifts go around and around. People get hostile sometimes, so we had to put a limit on the number of times a gift could change hands before it was "safe." No matter what, it was always a good time. Add alcohol and watch out!

All the gifts in your photos are very interesting. And check out that manicure! Whose lovely shellacked fingernail is that in the menorah shot? Yours? I'm impressed!

Happy Hanukkah Hils. Better late then never, eh?

SandyCarlson said...

This holiday is so beautiful. I love the way you celebrated it. So much fun and spirit and color.

Hilary said...

• Thank you, Alix. Yes, 63 comments does floor me.. truly and often. :) You're right about the stealing of gifts part. We too, put a limit on it one year, plus a rule of no steal backs. It does indeed get crazy. The pretty nails belong to my cousin. I've forwarded the post link to her so she can see your kind compliment. :) Thanks for the kind words, Alix. :)

• Thanks kindly, Sandy. I'm glad you could feel that from this post. You always do manage to find the heart of the best.. and the best of the heart. Thanks for that. :)

abb said...


Hilary said...

Shalom, TSannie. :)

~JarieLyn~ said...

Those treats look mighty tasty. It sounds like you had a wonderful time with your family. We also play the same game at our house, except we draw numbers. We do this after we do our regular gift exchange. It sure is a lot of fun.

Hilary said...

Thanks very much JarieLyn. They were indeed tasty. It's a fun game, isn't it? I'm hearing of more and more people who have adopted it too. Thanks so much for stopping by. :)