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  • Writer's pictureLeah Jones

Holiday Highlights

The First Night of Hanukkah

I was alone in Toronto on a business trip and staying at a hotel that was too lovely to be alone in. Feeling lonely in an ugly hotel is fine, really, but feeling lonely in a beautiful hotel–one with two bathrobes, two glasses etched with the room number, two chocolates from turndown service–that is a much lonelier lonely. It was a sub-zero night and the third time that I’d rescheduled the trip, so all of my friends that I’d meant to see weren’t available. I went to the hotel restaurant, had some elk, some creme brulee and went to bed.

The Second Night of Hanukkah

After a great day with colleagues in Toronto that went something like Hotel-Car-Conference Room-Car-Airport, I was in the Toronto Airport which always leaves me frustrated. Somehow I fly up on United and always come back on Air Canada, which is confusing. Then you think you are done and still have to cross the border into the US before you go through security. I got through customs, zipped through duty free and got to my gate to find a delay. The 30 minute delay stretched into a two hour delay. I found an outlet at the Molson Bar and got IM working on my phone, chatting away until I finally boarded. I got home around midnight and went to bed.

The Third Night of Hanukkah

Around 5:30 I was grating the second potato out of a 10 lb bag so I could fry up a latke storm. This was going to be the first night I lit candles, finally, and all of my friends were coming over to eat piles of latkes. Then there was a boom and the power went out. If you haven’t been to my house, then you should also know that I have an electric stove. No power means no frying latkes.

My phone started ringing with friends calling to check in and see if the bad weather was making me cancel the party. No, but, um, you see, I have no electricity and no way to cook the latkes. After a bit of stress, we decided that Plan B would be to go to St. Andrew’s, the Scottish bar around the corner, if the power didn’t return.

The power didn’t return, so we blew out the candles and walked over to St. Andrew’s for a traditional Hanukkah feast of nachos, fish n chips, hamburgers and potato skins. I was very embarassed, but everyone had a good time, lots of laughs and good company.

Around 9PM or so, a few twitter friends from Wicker Park hopped in a cab to join us. When they got to the bar, they p

assed over a menorah that a couple Chabad kids had given them on the street downtown. “Are you Jewish?” they were asked. “No, but we’re going to a Hanukkah party to hang out with some Jews.” “Then take this menorah to the party and give it to them.” So Jacqui, Clint and Dan show up with a menorah and we’re finally able to light the 3 candles and say the blessings together.

Around midnight a few strong hold-outs came back to my condo, where the power was back on, and we made latkes. We snacked, drank and laughed until 3AM.

The Fourth Night of Hanukkah AKA Christmas Eve

I spent most of the day cleaning, shopping and packing for my trip to my sister’s for Christmas. Then got to the Amtrak station a little early, only to be delayed a couple hours. By the time I got to her house, I gave my nephew a too tight hug (broke his silly bones), wrapped presents, talked to my dad and then crawled into bed for some well deserved sleep.

The Fifth Night of Hanukkah AKA Christmas

We all slept in pretty late for it being Christmas morning. My mom was recovering from a 14 hour drive that should have taken two hours, I’d kept my nephew up late by not arriving, and we were all just sleepy. Honestly, I rolled over, checked my phone and saw a tweet from my sister and that was when I knew I should get out of bed.

Christmas morning was a blast. My nephew is very, nearly 4 years old and was thrilled to see that Santa brought a purple light saber. It was the only gift he was interested in and we could’ve stopped with gifts right then. Luckily we didn’t and he also got Legos from me, or should I say ‘for me’? Turns out I still really love Legos and spent the rest of the weekend building starships and playing light sabers.

My mom taught my sister how to properly make milk gravy and we had biscuits and gravy for a late lunch with Krispy Kreme donuts for dessert. Then we played some more. My folks took off around dusk and the rest of us went downstairs for some quality time with the new Wii before bed.

The Sixth Night of Hanukkah AKA Boxing Day

It is called Boxing Day because that is what we did, except for on the Wii instead of boxing up leftovers for the help to take home. I babysat my nephew for the day, while my sister and brother-in-law went to work. So much easier now that I don’t have to try to figure out diapers. We played with Legos, Light Sabers, cars, books and managed to even eat a little bit of food. My nephew is awesome and my sister and brother-in-law are fantastic parents. I don’t know how parents manage to raise kids, especially awesome kids. It is a mystery to me and I’m lucky to be in the Auntie Mame role for now.

The Seventh Night of Hanukkah

Saturday was a lot more Legos, Wii and Light Sabers, with some Desperaux mixed in and a delicious dinner at Reality Bites in Bloomington. It was great to spend three whole days with my family and I’m glad the trains were too sold out for me to change my ticket for something earlier. My train was, of course, delayed, and I didn’t get to Chicago until 12:30. I swung by Amy’s house for a moment and we wound up staying up until six in the morning talking about boys, sewing and nail polish.

The Eighth Night of Hanukkah

I made some latkes with a mix from a box and finally got to light my menorah. Only the second time this holiday. Some years you light them all and some years you don’t. And those are the holidays so far. Secular New Year is right around the corner and I have no idea what it holds.

What do you hope will happen in 2009?

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