I would like to take this opportunity to wish all of you a very happy holiday season.
If you are celebrating Chanukah, may the lights of the menorah shine brightly. I had a wonderful evening recently -- celebrating the first night of the holiday with my daughter and son-in-law at their apartment. It was a real first for them as a couple, hosting a party at their place. Family and friends gathered to enjoy latkes, a delicious cheddar fondue,(Adrienne & Jason love fondue and made sure that their bridal registry included several fondue pots.) and of course, plenty of sweet treats including donuts, Brownies and a “to die for” chocolate ganache cake. (Jason celebrated his birthday recently, so the cake was a belated b-day special treat.)
I watched Adrienne lead a game of dreidel, taking time to read the “rules” of how to play from a book she had had since childhood. She decided to create teams of two -- and the game began. Taking turns, each guest spun the dreidel and awaited to see what letter came up. Laughter filled the evening as those who were winning gathered more and more chocolate Hershey Kisses. (The candy Kisses were the “gelt” or money being played for and trust me, everyone wanted to win big.) At times, it was downright hilarious watching and listening. Remember, Adrienne’s guests were not Jewish and thus, for many, this was the first time they had ever played with a dreidel and not only were learning a new game but even a new “language.” She would pronounce the Hebrew letters and everyone attempted to say them as best they could. At one point, a good friend of Jason’s shouted out, “L’Chaim!” To which I responded: “If there’s a L’Chaim on that dreidel, I want to see it!” Again, we had a good laugh! Fun was the buzz word that night!
This weekend, members of my family as well as dear friends, neighbors and my “newest friends” (readers of Marilyn’s Byline) will celebrate Christmas. One of my Mom’s sisters raised six of my cousins in the Catholic faith. So, every Christmas Day as far back as I can recall, we visited their home to enjoy a traditional Italian Christmas dinner of lasagna. Of course, I enjoyed seeing their big Christmas tree and all the gifts piled underneath. (We would have them over to our house for a Chanukah party, so the month of December always meant lots of parties and celebrations.)
I sincerely hope that everyone has a festive time -- filled with good food, lots of laughter and perhaps most of all, the creation of memories. I have so many wonderful memories from childhood of the holiday season. Growing up in Philadelphia, PA meant cold weather, perhaps even snow in the month of December. As a kid, snow was fun! Sledding and days off from school. Yes, those were fun times. As I grew older however, I also began to “hate” snow and ice. If you have never driven in either of these horrific weather conditions, let me say this, it’s not fun. The cold, dreary days of winter is what drove me to eventually want to live in Florida. I needed the sunshine. And yet, I still have fond memories of those days when I was a child sledding the hills behind the doctor’s office down the road from where we lived.
The holiday season has a greater meaning for me now as a cancer survivor. In fact, everyday is more special. I don’t take much for granted. I appreciate everything -- if someone says “happy holiday” to me, I relish it. If they take a moment to walk over and give me a “hug” and again say “best wishes” I am extra happy. I took some time this morning to venture over to the Oviedo Y, one of my favorite places to hang out. There, almost everyone took the time to say “Merry Christmas,” “Happy Chanukah,” and “Happy Holidays,” to me .. while I was riding the stationary bike, working out on a piece of equipment or just sipping a cup of coffee. I felt so good being around this type of positive energy. Even when I left the place where I had a bite to eat for lunch, the woman behind the counter (who has supported my Relay for Life team) called out to me, “Happy, healthy holidays.”
Whether you celebrate Chanukah or Christmas or if you will be gathering the family to enjoy Kwanzaa, I wish you a happy holiday. I also extend my best to you for a healthy New Year. Trust me, I’ve learned my lesson the hard way. If you are healthy -- you are a very fortunate individual. Never underestimate the power of good health.
Eat, drink and be merry. Also be safe. And, may we all enjoy a peaceful holiday season.