Sunday, December 9, 2012

Holiday Happenings in Hub City


So we missed New Brunswick's tree lighting this year as I was working. But then I found out (still not sure how), that Highland Park was having a Christmas tree/Menorah lighting Saturday. After Shabbos, of course.

(Our town has a large, Jewish population-mostly Modern Orthodox, some Hasidim, conservative. A reformed minyan meets at my church. Israeli's, who can fall into any camp, I guess. Oh, and we have a town eruv. Google it).

So S and I and hubby and the dog walked uptown for dinner and general lighting of things. Several shops were giving out warm cider and cookies and S's old daycare was having pictures with Santa. S told Santa she wants a baby brother or sister for Christmas. Umm. Anyhoo, We stayed too long at the shawarma restaurant, missed the lighting of the Christmas tree and so stayed for the menorah lighting. How's that for a multicultural sentence? While they were preparing the menorah, a big PVC affair, the high school a cappella group sang, and then a blue grass group played Christmas music. It was quite a sight, all of us huddled on the sidewalk, listening to Christmas tunes and watching the menorah preparations. S found some friends. Together, they posed for pictures for a Jewish paper. "Say Happy Chanukah!" said the photographer and the 3 girls did, with candy canes in their mouths. I love my town. They were also selling menorahs (dreidle included) for $1. Of course we bought one, I have no shame. And it's a dollah.

I think the town kinda threw this thing together last minute, because the place they chose to do this was right on the main drag, on the sidewalk with cones extended into the street which is busy with NJ, holiday traffic. At night. I spent the time poised to spring into action should someone be jostled into the path of an oncoming SUV. Anyhoo, the rabbi(?) came forward, talked about the meaning and miracle of Chanukah and then proceeded to light up a flare. I had been wondering, because their were no light bulbs on this thing and there was no way a candle was going to last in the weather. No, flares it is! The assembled group sang the blessing over the lighting of the candles and with his one flare he lit the center and then the first night candle. Flares smoking, sparks falling to the ground, mothers pulling their children back so they didn't catch on fire. And all the while the real risk of an errant driver veering 1 foot to the right and cutting us all down. Good times.

We went home and played dreidle with pennies. It's easy and because we haven't had cheap dreidles pushed on us since childhood, fun (some Jewish friends I know are less than enthusiastic about the dreidling, but it was exciting and exotic for us. And you get to sing that song). It literally took S 10 seconds to memorize the symbols. Not the names, we're still working on that, but right away she knew that nun=no pennies, hey=half the pennies, shin=put a penny in the pot and gimmel (which looks like a "high heel" per my child)=Yippee! Gimmel me ALL the pennies!



Today we went to the Crossroads Theater's Holiday Jubilee. Eldest daughter got paid, yes I said paid, to be a costume consultant for the Motown inspired holiday show. Kids are free with a paid adult ticket and they sat on the stage. It was great-the music was fun, we were dancing in the seats and S had a great time, even though she didn't get picked to go up and dance with the cast, but she wore her disappointment well and I was so proud of her good behavior I bought her a disgusting candy thing at 7-11 afterward. They even put in  Chanukah, Kwanzaa and Muslim songs. And not in a "hey we have to be politically correct and throw in a
Chanukah song" but very nicely done. Because, seriously, sharing between different groups of people doesn't dilute anything, it only makes what we have and believe in stronger. It was groovy. AND the costumes were right on. I came home, ate 3 slices of pizza and passed out. Word.