In a year filled with so much to be sad about, I wanted to end on a slightly higher note than ‘yay a vaccine is on its way.’ So I decided to hold a Chanukah Drive-by party.
I must admit it’s not your typical Drive-by event. There were no birthday balloons or teachers waving. It wasn’t about coming by to celebrate another year around the sun in the way we’ve been doing for our friends and loved ones. It was a way to bring celebration and it-matters-ness to a Jewish holiday about survival and not giving up against all odds, and mostly eating.
My annual Chanukah party may have started out of a desire for my kids to feel their Jewish side has a cool holiday too. My young daughter has not made it a secret that Christmas morning is her most anticipated morning of the year. A tough one to swallow for this Jewish mama. But honestly it’s hard to compete with finding Santa’s half-eaten cookies in the morning, or the milk the reindeer finished. My challenge was mighty in bringing Chanukah even into the running.
Thus my annual Chanukah party tradition was born and it’s been a great joy to host a party that entails latkes and matzah ball soup, dreidels and white elephant gift stealing games. I’ve been working my tuches off to find the best chocolate caramel matzah recipe and cute paper plates with menorahs on them.
So this year we knew we couldn’t host a party. We couldn’t even have friends over in the backyard, per stay-at-home orders. But Drive-bys were not on the list of closures so I jumped on that bandwagon.
I found Chanukah goodie bags and filled them with latkes, chocolate gelt, dreidels and chocolate caramel matzah. Our friends came by to pick up their gift bags but also to come together for a brief moment to keep some semblance of tradition alive. So much has been lost or put on pause for our kids. I wanted to persevere like a Maccabee or a Jewish mom who wants the best for her kids. We stood behind a table wearing our masks and showed that we can always find a way to keep traditions going.
Maybe it wasn’t the party we look forward to every year, and maybe we ended up chilled and tired from standing around waiting for the next car to pull up, but we really had a great time. We taught our kids that you can always find a way to make someone happy. And when you give, you end up getting even more pleasure than you might expect. In years past we’d sing, “Gather round the table we’ll give you a treat, shiny tops to play with and latkes to eat.” True words for this year’s event.
I was happy to bring our party to the curb and keep up a tradition meant to make Chanukah a holiday they look forward to. Now they can’t wait for Christmas.