Get out your blotters, it’s time for plates of oil-filled food and candlelit evenings. As much as Hanukkah traditions hold a special place in my heart, when it comes to holidays, the Festival of Lights doesn’t even hit my top five. Sure, there are eight nights of presents and lots of fire, but the loot was all-too-often school-oriented (“Oh great, an eraser set!”) and the fire always highly supervised. Then there’s the whole dreidel ordeal. I remember sitting in a circle on my Great Aunt Mildred’s wood floor, splinters poking through my tights, frantic to win some very low-end foil-covered chocolate that tasted more like wax lips than anything Cadbury ever produced.
So this year, with eight nights before me to do with what I pleased, I decided to reinvent my Hanukkah celebration. Lighting up an elaborate array of various tea-candles that were littering my cupboards, I invited some of my goyum friends over to experience the magic. Instead of the traditional dry-as-a-bone brisket that I was used to, I served up a couple pounds of Luling City Market’s, which I've always found deliciously moist, even without the sauce. Instead of the tired, browning broccoli florets that sat collecting wax beneath a dripping menorah, I opted for a pre-packaged Central Market Spring Mix, a perfect palate cleanser. And replacing the much loved but somehow still tired latkes, I decided to schlep out to Cracker Barrel for some nasty-good Hashbrown Casserole. (Just look at that photo.)
After dinner I tossed my dreidel in the garbage and threw down for a couple hands of Texas Hold’em, this time playing for real money. As my friends were leaving, one of them said, “Hey, isn’t today a Jewish holiday or something?” and I wondered if maybe I had gone too far... -- Sophie Rosenblum