When I was a kid, Hanukkah was a side dish to the meat and potatoes of Christmas. My mom was raised Catholic, my dad was a Jew. And though they were married by a very nice rabbi under a chuppah, there was always a tree in the house in December. Granted, the tree was topped with a Star of David made of garish blue glass. But still. Hanukkah was an afterthought. Or before-thought, depending on the calendar that year.
I remember one Hanukkah, my mom actually made latkes. With pork chops. “They just go so well together,” she explained. It’s not like any of us kept kosher. But it just felt wrong.
I was already a vegetarian, so I simply abstained.
These days I get to pick my own holiday rituals. There’s still a tree in the house — old habits die hard, and I’m in love with a sweet-talking, non-Jewish blonde girl from Georgia — but my menorah gets equal billing. At the end of the day, they’re both beautiful symbols of light breaking through darkness. And God knows we need all the light we can get right now.
Here’s what’s on my holiday shopping list:
- These hand-dipped beeswax candles are so much classier than the ones from my childhood that instantly broke the second you touched them.
- Speaking of light in the darkness:
- And these, just to let my mom know I’ll never forget the great latke and pork kerfuffle of 1987.
- Nowadays, my mom follows latke recipes electronically. This "rustic" iPad stand cracks me up. It’s made by Bowhay Woodcraft, rustic decor handmade in Texas. Yeehaw!
- And while both of my parents adore my sweet Southern girl, I know they'll always dream of me settling down with one of these guys:
Jenn Maer’s career as a storyteller began at age seven when she penned (well, actually, penciled) her first novel, “Shark!” Jenn Maer has spent 10 years at IDEO, telling stories and crafting brand strategies for clients like Marriott, Nike, Campbell's...and even Reboot.