with Lynne and Leslie
Category Archives: Holidays

The weird, friendly adventures of a black Christian lady looking for a Hanukkah menorah

by SweetMidlife
And behold, a menorah grows at Marshall's.

And behold, a menorah grows at Marshall’s.

“Happy Hanukkah!”

Over my shoulder as I (being Leslie) rush out of a fancy chain home decor store here in West Palm Beach, I hear the very sweet and apologetic clerk, who has just explained that her establishment is the latest on my crossed-off list of places that do not carry menorahs. This is my fifth Hanukkah season with my husband, who is Jewish, and the beautiful candle holder that his late mom got us for our wedding seems to have vanished in our last move, or in the ether, or with a tiny Jewish group of Borrowers who also seem to have stolen the mate to every one of his socks.

Because we already had one – or used to – I have never had to go shopping for a menorah before, and foolishly believed that in an area whose populace that no less an expert than Jason Alexander described as “a preponderance of Jews” would be a hotbed of menorah-hood. That it would be the Menorahhood.

Oh, foolish silly Goy.

I am not Jewish, but I am a wife, so in the last five years or so I have become our household’s procurer of most holiday and special-occasion paraphernalia and accoutrements, including wandering into Judaica stores looking for seder plates, making Passover reservations, ordering matzo ball soup en masse, hunting for High Holiday tickets and, as today, driving around the greater West Palm Beach area looking for a menorah. When I first began these errands years ago, I braced for the weird looks – and boy, did I get them! – at the red Afro’d black woman wandering, confused, through the Kosher cookbooks, looking like the loser in a very specific scavenger hunt.

But you know what always wound up happening, on those trips and today, on my menorah hunt? Everybody, pretty much to a number, was awesome. Welcoming. The guy in the Judaica store could not have been more helpful. The ladies in the various delis looked bemused but walked me through the rugelach and smoked fish dips with patience and kindness, because it was clear I was out of my depth.

And today, two separate clerks, the aforementioned lady at Restoration Hardware and the one at chi chi stationary store at Paper Goods, said “Happy Hanukkah” to me. And it made my heart grow a gazillion sizes. Understand that I am a Christian, and my celebration of Hanukkah is because of my husband, who in turn goes to Easter services with me. It’s also a nod to the Jewish roots of my own beliefs.

The ladies at those stores do not know this. I assume that I look different than the other people who have come in looking for menorahs and candles and stuff. But they listened to what I wanted and greeted me accordingly, and it was sublime.

Many of my Facebook friends of several religions have recently pondered the downright nasty response they have gotten from some strangers who have received their sincere “Happy Holidays” and spit it right back at the giver, to strike a blow for the War on Christmas. I can see standing up for your beliefs, but don’t be nasty about it. (Those people, no matter how fervent their Christian beliefs, are being bad citizens and, if you think about it, not exemplary Christians, because we all know the best way to interest people in your beliefs is to take their heads off when they say something nice to you and can’t tell if you’re Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, atheist, Druid or otherwise. But go on being outraged. That’s such a good look on you. Said no one ever.)

So I loved that these women wished me the happiest version of the holiday that corresponds with the thing I was looking for, because that makes sense, regardless of my appearance, or of fear of insulting me – it wouldn’t make sense for me to be insulted, but you’ve met humans, so you know they sometimes take operatic-level offense to the stupidest thing.

I wind up finding not one but three different menorahs in the most random of places – the stockroom at a nearby Marshall’s, where a nice clerk was about to discount them and put them on display. She, too, doesn’t blink an eye when I happily swoop in and grab one, because a sold menorah is a sold menorah. When I light the candles tonight, I’ll be grateful for my family, and the joining of two cultures, and for the resilience that the holiday celebrates, as well as for people who understand that what these holidays have in common is Divine love and the love we’re supposed to show to each other.

And that’s something to be happy about.


Boy, that’s a large mouse: Our kid’s first Disney trip

by SweetMidlife
"You see, little boy, this big white glove is magic. I wave it and a gazillion dollars appears. I got it like that.

“You see, little boy, this big white glove is magic. I wave it and a gazillion dollars appears. I got it like that.

Leslie here! So my husband, mom and the kid we hang out with made an important American childhood pilgrimage that has no significance whatsoever at the moment to that kid, as he is 14 months old and hasn’t quite mastered forks yet- We visited Walt Disney World over the Thanksgiving holiday, specifically Epcot Center and Disney Hollywood Studios, because it’s not far from our house, because close friends were staying in the area from out of town, and because nothing says “holiday” like trying to figure out how close you can get your kid to the giant, giant rodent in the Santa suit before he or she loses their crap completely and starts desperately trying to escape.

Donald and his handler navigate the paparazzi and the over-sugared kids trying to hurl themselves at him.

Donald and his handler navigate the paparazzi and the over-sugared kids trying to hurl themselves at him.

Honestly, it went a lot better than we’d imagined – Kid is fairly chill and social if you give him food, and the parks, while crowded, weren’t the insane asylums of over-sugared tiny demons and disappointed parents determined to wring every magic moment the second mortgage they took out for this vacation that we’d expected. Sure, we saw some of those folks, but we had enough space to steer clear. Kid is just figuring out who Mickey Mouse is – we have a relatively large one in our living room – and again had no real idea of where he was other than a large, loud place with lots of colors and music and people who can’t stop gushing about how cute he is (he gets this a lot.)

sergio

So is he silent…in Italian? How would you know?

So what did we get out of it, besides lighter wallets, sore feet and the irrational desire to belt the next person who sings “Let It Go” at me? (OMG but are they ever overdoing the “Frozen” thing up in there) We got to shamelessly dive headlong into giddy sentimentality, to wake up our own inner goofy kiddies who can’t get enough of this stuff, to have some surprisingly good Moroccan food at Epcot, and to know that one day, we can show Kid the photos and tell him he got to meet a nine foot-tall Goofy and he barely flinched, because he’s awesome.

Somewhere, hidden behind the fake English village, Lady Gaga is planning her Father Christmas costume, although hers will have a rhinestone staff and a muuch shorter coat.

Somewhere, hidden behind the fake English village, Lady Gaga is planning her Father Christmas costume, although hers will have a rhinestone staff and a muuch shorter coat.


Thanksgiving Plus

by SweetMidlife

Hi y’all. Lynne here.

Before we got married, my husband usually spent Thanksgiving with family, or with friends who had become like family. He was usually a guest in their homes, so he didn’t have what people who make their own Thanksgiving feasts do: tons of leftovers to savor for days. So he started his own Friday-after Thanksgivng tradition, where he bought ingredients for his own feast for one. This usually was canned cranberry sauce, ready to heat up turkey and gravy, a pack of rolls, canned sweet potatoes and Stove Top stuffing. When we got married, we kept this tradition up, and on that Friday, feasted on a mixture of ready-made stuff we bought from the grocery store and stuff we brought home from whomever’s house we went to on Thursday (including whatever we brought to the big dinner). And that was some good eating. Because Thanksgiving food rocks. And because I love me some Stove-Top. In college, I ate it as a meal. Just the stuffing. Carbs are love.

But for the past few years we have been trying to cut down on the processed foods that we eat here, and while we haven’t completely eliminated them, because frozen tater tots, I do a lot of stuff from scratch. Last year for our post-Turkey Day dinner, I bought Stove Top, but made the candied yams (using this recipe from football star Keyshawn Johnson’s mom) and made this green bean casserole with fresh onions (and not the yummy ones from French’s that I eat like candy, or the canned soup).

This year, I want to kick it up another notch, and make the yams and the green bean casserole but also homemade stuffing and rolls that I make with yeast and whatnot. Pair that with maybe the leftovers from the slow cooker apple crisp I am making for dinner at our friends’ house for Thursday, I am actually cooking a whole Thanksgiving dinner. Well, wait. I am not making a whole turkey. I don’t eat, so it makes no sense to do that for just my husband and the toddler. So I might find already roasted turkey. But everything else I am making.  And I am a little excited, but I also feel this kind of validation. Like I am grown-up or something. And maybe I shouldn’t seek validation from that. But you know what? I will take it. Because it lets me know that I can do this. If I don’t, there is no shame in that either, because, well, STOVE TOP IS DELICIOUS. But I am happy to be able to put in the work, and provide some yumminess for the boys who live here, and to craft new traditions for our family.

It's about to get real real up in here. And we will hopefully not need the Dustbuster.

It’s about to get real real up in here. And we will hopefully not need the Dustbuster.

I will let you know if it went down like I planned. But whatever I do, we will be together, and we will give thanks, and it will be good.

Today we are linking up with the Mommy Monday Blog Hop. Visit them. They have good stuff. 


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