Since May, I’ve experienced a lot of firsts. This weekend, I had my first family Hanukkah party in New York.
Growing up, Hanukkah celebrations were split. On my mom’s side, parties consisted of the Detroit-based relatives gathering at a cousin’s house, and having a grab bag of gifts for the kids. While I always enjoyed seeing family, I tended to leave disappointed, with a monogrammed keychain and bookstore gift card in-tow.
My father’s side was a tad more material, and so the celebrations reflected just that. My paternal first-cousins would gather at my dad’s parent’s house for a simple latke-laden dinner and what seemed like never-ending gifts. My dad’s parents had this tradition of giving each of their ten grandchildren a bag full of gifts, videotaping each grandchild as the gifts were revealed. As we aged [and they aged, too], we started to receive monetary gifts as opposed to particular items we had wished for. Instead of unveiling the gifts, we had to justify how we would spend our newly earned [being a Kirsch is not easy work!] money. My answers changed quickly from “I’ll buy some fuzzy stickers,” to, “I need to pay my part of the heating bill.” You see, mo’ money, mo’ problems.
My New York Hanukkah qualified, too, as its own breed of celebration. My cousin Molly is a gifted hostess. Her Manhattan apartment is perfect for entertaining, and somehow, she can turn it from living space to a venue within a moment’s (or a week’s) notice. I gathered with my cousins and extended family earlier in the day to assist with set up. Wrapping gifts, draining cucumbers and scallions from their marinade, and arranging the challah into serving dishes: cake walk. Navigating an apartment filled with people whom I’ve never met: interesting. My cousin boasted about my social media skills [I am ninja, read my tweets], and so I was approached by many of her business-owner friends with questions about my line of work, and how it can benefit them. Noshing on latkes, some delicious orzo salad, sipping on a personally mixed vodka lemonade (I should not go into mixology), and schmoozing with a variety of people, I truly enjoyed myself.
For those of you who are celebrating, I hope you are continuing to have a חג שמח!