Practicing Gratitude – Last Night of Hanukkah – A Day of 10 on My Joy Scale

I am responsible for my own happiness. I am responsible to find joy in the face of sadness. I am responsible for stretching my comfort zone. I am now realizing how much I need to review my options in order to find peace. When someone wants to make you join in their anger and sadness you need to evaluate whether or not that is a decision that is good for you. I don’t want to accept anyone else’s foul mood.

I have been in a great deal of pain lately. I am doing what I can to lower my pain levels. I know that I need to jump on any opportunity to expand my world when the pain subsides. I contacted my daughter this morning to see if she is feeling better. She told me she was. I did a quick analysis of my pain levels to decide if I felt I could make the long drive to her house by myself.

I am not a freeway driver. It is a 1 on my level of joy. However, seeing my grandkids is a 10 on my joy scale. I knew the joy in sharing family time was more important than my discomfort in freeway time.  I drove to get a few last gift cards I wanted to add to the homemade presents I made the kids.

I bought them each a new pillow. Then I made them personalized pillowcases and a throw pillow to match. I also made them a rice filled neck warmer bag and a bowl cozy. Each child had a specific theme or color scheme that I felt appropriate for them. I purchased a new bath towel for each of them. I added different Zs to further personalize their gifts. I realize these are far more practical than fun gifts. I wanted to make memories for this Hanukkah, and this is how I decided to do so.

I added candy canes, a box of special treats, a See’s lollipop, two gift cards, and a small item for each child. I still remember what it is like to be a kid. Whatever they may have felt about my choices, they respectfully thanked me and started consuming the candy ASAP. The older ones started discussing what they might purchase. I will take the day as a win. I am grateful for their presence in my life. I love all my grandchildren dearly.

My daughter and I looked over the task she still has to unpack her garage. She is feeling overwhelmed. It is difficult to downsize your home. I pointed out how much she has accomplished and offered a few suggestions as to how to complete the task. She seemed a little less stressed after our discussion.

I left her house in the hopes of making it home before dark. My night vision is not the best and safety is very important to me. Thank goodness for Google maps. I made it home with a few minutes to spare before total darkness. I was able to light my Hanukkah candles. I am grateful for an exhausting love filled day.

Hanukkah

From my daughter tonight, “I asked Zakai if he liked his “practical handmade gifts” and he said what does practical mean…I said things you can use but may not have asked for….he said oh no….these are great gifts and I would totally ask for them! 😄❤️ He said he especially loves how you made his towel! Now we are heading out to the store so he can use his bowl cozy for ice cream!”

kaikai

I have so much to be grateful for. I will not allow others to take away my joy.

Practicing Gratitude – Day Three Of Hanukkah

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I love to learn more about my religion. I have more time at this stage of my life to devote to gaining understanding. I feel like I need to know so much more. Tonight was the third night of Hanukkah. I am again celebrating in peaceful solitude.

 

When my worlds collide I am grateful. Today I had anotherconnecting  experience.  I am happy when I practice meditation so today when I read an email from Rabbi Jill Zimmerman, I felt connected in two worlds. The entire post is here. The rabbi takes you through step by step, to make the candle lighting much more meaningful and purposeful.  I want to add this short meditation to my Hanukkah practice tomorrow night.   

I appreciate the idea of letting light into my world. The rabbi posted questions to reflect on after the lights diminish.

  • What did the darkness feel like?
  • What did you notice about the flames themselves?
  • What came up for you as the candles were lit one after another and the light grew?  How did it feel when the candles burned down and the darkness came again?  Does it feel different than the original darkness?
  • Where in your life does light grow? Who is a candle for you?
  • How can you be a candle in your own life or the life of others?

I can imagine adding one or two of these each night to make the experience more meaningful. I am grateful for the ability to learn, experience, and move toward happiness.

Practicing Gratitude – 2nd Night of Hanukkah

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On this, the second night of Hanukkah, I am grateful for some things falling into place.   

 

My day began early with a phone call from a friend in Australia. She was up in the middle of the night, as usual. I felt her angst as she has so many more things to get done for Christmas. She is the hostess with the mostess. She decorates to the nines and enjoys the gala events she puts on. It is fun having friends who celebrate differently. I am grateful she like to share her world with me.

 I ventured out to the bank and to the grocery store today. I was unnecessarily worried about crowds and traffic. When I arrived at the store I ran into a dear friend. I miss her so much and between our separate physical ailments neither of us gets out too much. We had hugs and a catch-up session in the middle of the aisle. When someone knows you as well as we know each other, you can say a lot in a short time. I am grateful for our chance meeting. Her shopping cart items prompted me to get a very small roast for this week. I wanted to make some comfort food as the rain persists and the cold temperatures are kicking my butt.

I came home to some sweet gifts my friend left me. I will drop of hers on Wednesday morning. Mainly I made gifts this year. Shopping is difficult for me right now. Not having to go to a job means more time enjoying my hobby.

I was so happy to find out that two of my packages I mailed on Saturday morning arrived at their destinations today. I worry about lost packages. This has been a part of my history.  I am grateful when I know my gifts are not floating in nowhere land.

I spent my day finishing up some more sewing items. I know I have more time, so I continue creating. I am grateful that my body is warm in my upstairs room. Yippee for heat rising.

Fortunately, I had some texting conversations with women I care about. It is nice when you know that you are never really alone. I am grateful for the connections I have made this past year. I adore my tribe.

It was dark early, and I was eager to stop sewing for awhile to light the candles. I then made some mac and cheese as well as pea soup. My heart was happy, my stomach was happy, and I felt grateful for all I created today.

After dinner I returned to sewing. I decided to make some more doll clothes for my cousin’s granddaughters. It seems I have a love of making these little fashion items. They are certainly easier to make than “real” clothes.

I finally ended my day at almost one AM. I am exhausted but satisfied with my day. I hope everyone I love has a wonderful Christmas and a Happy Hanukkah.

Practicing Gratitude – 1st Night of Hanukkah

Experiencing an evening of  making perfectly imperfect blintzes.

I rarely attempted blintzes when my mother was on this earth. Hers were amazing and from my early childhood to months before her passing I was filled with joy whenever she made them. She would feign exasperation when I told her of my failing attempts at replicating her mouthwatering treats. It was a humorous give and take discussion whenever the topic came up.

Upon her transitioning, I tried to make blintzes to connect with my mom’s memory. Most often they turned out blah, ununiform in appearance, and not quite right. I would give up for months until I once again needed to try. I wanted the connection. I needed the feeling that my mom would be proud of my victory over the blintz.

A few months ago, I scoured the recipes online and saved many to my Pinterest account. That was a mistake.  Do not add things to your Pinterest account unless it is tried and true. Otherwise you have a ton of recipes and don’t know which one was “the right one.” I was so overjoyed with the results from my last batch, I gently wept. I felt my mom looking over my shoulder and then giving me a hug.

I don’t make blintzes often as I am the only one in my house that adores them. Tonight, is the first night of Hanukkah. I wanted blintzes again. I have been feeling a little off tonight. My spirit is not as it should be. I am aware of losses tonight. I am missing people who loved me and the love of people I loved.

I first looked online for recipes. I remembered the recipe I liked last time was considered “easy.” (That’s right up my alley.) I didn’t find the exact recipe I successfully used last time, so I checked my Pinterest files. OMG I was overwhelmed. None looked quite right. Being the analytical science teacher that I am, I searched for similarities in the recipes.

They were all close in the ingredients listed, but the quantities varied like crazy. I remembered an important factor in making the crepes was letting the mixture rest for at least a half an hour before frying. One recipe recommended letting the mixture rest in the fridge for up to 10 hours. Any recipe that said to pour the batter right away was eliminated.

How is it possible that almost all the recipes called for precisely four eggs, but some had a cup of flour and some stated up to two cups of flour? It is a mystery to me. All recipes seemed to call for unsalted butter, but then required you to add salt. This seemed strange to me. A couple said to add vanilla. My mom never added vanilla, but I decided to add a scouch less than what they listed. It seemed right to me. When pouring the batter some said use a ¼ cup, some said ½ cup, and one even said a ladle full. I remember on the recipe I liked last time, that ¼ cup was just right. The batter must be thin and poured quickly to surround the interior of the small frying pan. Some recipes stated to fry both sides while others said that was an unnecessary step. The “easy” recipe was not so easy tonight. Because nothing seemed just right, I took a little of this and a little of that and made what “felt” right.

Then of course came the hilarious filling of the stack of now fried crepes. I made the filling, again by combining different recipes. It took most of my counter to make my assembly line. The pictures they show you are perfect little blintzes, uniform in size and shape. Mine however have the occasional misshapen blobs. They still taste good, but they will not pass any beauty contest. Because I am making them mainly for me, I am not concerned with perfection.

After filling the blintzes, you must fry them in butter. (Not a low fat, or low cholesterol food.) Some recipes than state to eat them after they are filled and fried. Other recipes say to then bake the fried blintzes to make sure they are hot all the way through. I choose to bake after frying. It guarantees the blintz is hot and yummy all the way through.

I was thrilled with the end result. I had to eat a plateful. There was no other option. Mouthwatering blintzes now fill my Pyrex containers to enjoy later. My Hanukkah evening was fun as I ventured into the culinary world of blintzes.

I am OK celebrating my holiday my way. I am channeling my mom’s love and strength tonight. I am grateful for the hope that this new calendar year will bring more joy filled days.

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The First Night of Hanukkah

From Chabad.org

In the beginning, “G-d said, ‘Let There Be Light'”

1st Night of Chanukah

The reference is not only to physical light as we know it. This initial statement is rather the mandate of all Creation. The ultimate goal and purpose of creation is that the Divine Light shine throughout the world, transforming everything, even darkness itself, so that it, too, will shine.

1st night

The first night of Hanukkah I rejoice in the knowledge that I have religious freedom to celebrate my holiday. I will be making blintzes tonight. I am grateful that I hve learned to make them much like my mother did. I miss her.
Sourced from a Judiac site: (Here’s what you need to know. Each night, we add one more candle to the menorah, adding from right to left (just like Hebrew!). The first night (after sunset) we just light the shammus (the taller candle) and use that candle to light the furthest candle on the right, while saying the prayers below. The second night, we add one more candle, and use the shammus, light the two candles from left to right. Repeat each night until the whole menorah is lit!
The Blessings:
Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech ha’olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tsivanu l’hadlik ner shel Hanukkah.
Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Ruler of all, who hallows us with mitzvot, commanding us to kindle the Hanukkah lights.
Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech ha’olam, she-asah nisim la’avoteinu v’imoteinu bayamim hahaeim baz’man hazeh.
Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of all, who performed wondrous acts for our ancestors in days of old at this season.
On the first night, we add:
Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech ha’olam, shehecheyanu v’kiy’manu v’higianu laz’man hazeh.

Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of all, for giving us life, for sustaining us, and for enabling us to reach this season.)

I did some research and found a site that teaches how to make a doll sized  menorah for 18 inch dolls. I will be trying that this week for sure.

Happy Hanukkah

Lyrics:
Light one candle for the Maccabee children
With thanks their light didn’t die;
Light one candle for the pain they endured
When their right to exist was denied;
Light one candle for the terrible sacrifice
Justice and freedom demand;
And light one candle for the wisdom to know
That the peacemaker’s time is at hand!

Chorus:
Don’t let the light go out,
It’s lasted for so many years!
Don’t let the light go out!
Let it shine through our love and our tears!

Light one candle for the strength that we need
To never become our own foe;
Light one candle for those who are suff’ring
A pain they learned so long ago;
Light one candle for all we believe in,
That anger not tear us apart;
And light one candle to bind us together
With peace as the song in our heart!

(chorus)

What is the memory that’s valued so highly
That we keep it alive in that flame?
What’s the commitment to those who have died?
We cry out “they’ve not died in vain,”
We have come this far, always believing
That justice will somehow prevail;
This is the burden, This is the promise,
This is why we will not fail!

(chorus)

Don’t let the light go out!
Don’t let the light go out!
Don’t let the light go out!

I love this group, this song, and my heritage.

 

Another sweet version by Benny Freidman.

 

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