When it comes to Jewish Holidays, I celebrate mostly through the foods traditional to the festivals. When Passover rolls around I bake up a big pan of Matzo Kugel and pray that my cousin will make brisket. Purim means hamantaschen. For Rosh Hashanah I dip slices of apple into a bowl of honey and I make potato latkes for Hanukkah.
However, I do have a menorah, and tonight, on a whim, I decided to light it (as it’s the first night of Hanukkah). Like so many of my current possessions, it came with the apartment. I remember it from my childhood. It belonged to my grandfather and always sat on the bookshelf in the den. We only ever visited in the summer, so I don’t know whether he would light it during Hanukkah each year or not, although there is some wax in the candle cups, so I’m guessing he did.
Somewhere along the way, the menorah sustained some injury. It is bent, wobbly and is missing the holder for the final night’s candle. I’ll have to improvise a way to secure that last candle (if I remember to light it at all). There was something really nice, deeply satisfying even, about stumbling through what little I know of the Hanukkah prayer and lighting those candles. It makes me think that I should pay a little more attention to the parts of the Jewish Holidays that go beyond the food.
I’m having some people over for dinner tonight. It’s mostly potluck, I’m putting together the main dish. I settled on doing a baked pasta dish. Then I decided to complicate my life a little by doing one bake with turkey sausage and one without. Then I decided to do two completely different sauces instead of just making the sauce and only adding the meat to half of it (when it comes to food I often make my life more complex instead of simplifying it).
I went shopping earlier today, gathering ingredients at the Italian Market and Trader Joe’s, before heading home and pooping away the latter part of the afternoon reading blogs. Finally, around 4:45 I realized that I needed to run out to get a birthday present for a friend and pick up a red pepper for the sausage sauce. I popped into the produce market first and bought the pepper. I took it without a bag, because it seemed silly to me to use a plastic bag for a single, easily carried red pepper. Then I ran into Barnes and Noble (Joseph Fox Bookstore didn’t have a copy of said book), with the red pepper, found the book and got in line.
However, I soon realized that in getting in line with a book and a red pepper, I had just become the crazy person carrying around an item that was totally incongruous to the time and place. No one asked me about it, although I got several strange looks. When it was my turn at the cash register, I had to place the pepper down on the counter in order to pay. The clerk looked at it but didn’t so much as dash an appraising eye over me before placing my book in a bag and sending me on my way.
Of course, he put the book in a plastic bag before I could say a word about it, effectively negating my environmental efforts in turning down the bag for the pepper.