The First Night

… of Hanukkah is very important in our household: we make sure to break out the menorahs, latkes, sufganiyot, and ring in the holiday’s start in true Jewish style. This holiday is perhaps my most favorite and the one that I can remember celebrating when I was little even when religious observation was strictly forbidden in the USSR.

This year’s celebration didn’t disappoint when we opened our doors to my sister and parents-in-law. Evan made a beef stew carbonnade, I made latkes, my sister made sufganiyot, and ponchiki.

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My in-laws brought their famous chicken fingers, the wine and most importantly, chocolate chip and gingerbread cookies. The cookies were home-made, of course. Sophia had such a blast decorating the gingerbread men and Alex enjoyed eating the decorated creations.

IMG_3372I can always count on my mother-in-law to pull off an amazing child activity that keeps the kids occupied and happy.

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Before the cookies were decorated or perhaps shortly after, there was the lighting of the menorah. Although we have some beautiful, old menorahs, we chose to ring in this holiday with two that were made by the children in our family. The first one (shown here) is one that Sophia made with some adult supervision. The other is a menorah that Alex made for us and Sophia a few years ago. That menorah is very special to us, more valuable than any cast in silver or bronze and sculpted by an artist. IMG_3404

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Although she is only four, Sophia will tell you that the most important part of Hanukkah is the presents. The girls weren’t disappointed with the sheer volume of presents that came from my cousins, the girls’ grand and great-grand parents, and my sister (and co.).

We don’t open all the presents at once—there are, after all, eight days of Hanukkah. Of the ones we have opened, every single one will be used, enjoyed, and played with by Sophia and Eliza. There are two, however, that will be cherished. They are the ones that Anna made for them. Eliza got a busy purse complete with a zipper, velcro, and a few other clasps. Not only is it great because she can practice all those clasps but because it is a purse, too. Every fine lady can always use another purse. Sophia received a color traveling pack with slots for markers and a note-pad. Both items were hand-made with bright fabrics and lots of love. This isn’t the first time our kids have received something handmade from their Aunt Anna. A few years ago, Sophia received the book of colors. We flipped through it the other day with Eliza who is learning about colors.

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Happy Hanukkah!

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